Thaksin to attend Human Rights Hearing in US

Thailand’s ousted ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra will visit the United States next week to testify on alleged human rights violations during Bangkok’s deadly April-May political demonstrations after having been invited by the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), according to his legal advisor Noppadon Pattama.

Mr Noppadon said Monday that the ex-premier is scheduled to arrive Washington Dec 16 after receiving an invitation letter from the CSCE a few days ago to give information regarding reported human rights violations in Thailand to the commission’s hearing to be held mid-December.

The Thaksin legal adviser said the hearing focuses on human rights violations during the political disorder in April and May which led to a number of deaths and injuries as well as following up on the insurgency situation in Thailand’s three restive southern provinces, and the violation of freedom of expression of the media and public opinion which have been caused by the enforcement of a state of emergency.

Mr Noppadon, who was foreign minister during the Samak Sundaravej administration, said that the deposed premier believes the hearing will be a good opportunity for him to give another version of facts on the matter, apart from the information of the Thai government given via diplomatic channels.

“Mr Thaksin has accepted the invitation to go to Washington so that the commission will get to know the truth about the matter,” according to his close aide.

The former prime minister, removed by coup d’stat in Sept 2006, was not in Thailand during the period in question.

Eighty-nine people, including both security personnel and Red Shirt protesters, were killed and more than 1,400 were wounded during the ten-week demonstration of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) against the Abhisit Vejjajiva government, with both sides blaming each other as the cause of violence.

The military operations to retake the protest site at Ratchaprasong intersection on May 19 prompted the Red Shirt leaders to call off the rally, followed by arson at a number of locations in Bangkok.
Key Red Shirt leaders remain jailed for having had key roles in the protest. The Thai capital and its three adjacent remain under a state of emergency.

The CSCE, also known as the Helsinki Commission, is an independent US Government agency created in 1976 to monitor and encourage compliance with the Helsinki Final Act and other OSCE commitments.

The Commission consists of nine members from the United States Senate, nine members from the US House of Representatives, and one member each from the Departments of State, Defense, and Commerce.

The Commission convenes public hearings and briefings with expert witnesses on OSCE-concerned issues, organises official delegations to participating States and OSCE meetings to address and assess democratic, economic, security and human rights developments firsthand.

Meanwhile, Chavanond Intarakomalyasut, secretary to the Thai Foreign Minister, said on Monday that he does not believe the convicted premier will be allowed to enter the US, while conceding that the foriegn ministry has some information about Mr Thaksin’s possible visit to the US but details cannot be disclosed.

Mr Chavanond also declined to comment on whether Mr Thaksin’s entry to the US will affect the image of the Thai government.

When asked if the CSCE invitation would give Mr Thaksin the privilege to enter the US, the secretary said this should be irrelevant.

Deposed by a military coup in September 2006, Mr Thaksin is now living in exile abroad after evading a two-year jail term for violating a law on conflict of interest regarding a controversial Bangkok purchase of prime land.

In May this year Thailand’s Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for the ousted prime minister on terrorism charges for being behind and funding the violent actions of the Red Shirts which led to grenade attacks and arson in the Thai capital and provinces in the North and Northeast during the March-May demonstrations.(MCOT online news)

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