Put Some Pressure on Thailand

Put Some Pressure on Thailand
Robert Amsterdam

From my latest on Huffington Post:

It has been particularly heartening to see Germany’s decision to halt the sale of of military equipment – in the specific instance, engines that power Ukrainian-made armored personnel carriers – to the Royal Thai Army, citing EU rules which prohibit the sale of arms to “governments that systematically use violence to suppress or deny the rights of their citizens.” Thailand is finally beginning to be treated like the violent authoritarian state and serial human rights abuser that it is, rather than the sunny, smiling illusion once held in much of the West.

Until other major allies such as the United States, Japan, and other European states make it clear to the Thai elites that there are consequences for these open breaches of international law and indiscriminate use of state violence against citizens, they will see no incentive for change. Of course, one assumption is that international isolation is a price that the Thai elites are prepared to pay in order to maintain their grip on power. The potential ramifications of such a strategy are very worrying and the window for the international community to act before more state violence is unleashed may be tiny.

What is becoming clearer is that with Thailand’s internal opposition being rapidly degraded by the ongoing repression, fewer checks and balances remain on the excessive actions of the Thai regime. The international community, and bodies such as Amnesty International (whose tacit acceptance of lese majeste imprisonments is problematic), need to implement a coherent campaign where it is made clear that the Thai regime will be held to account should they continue on their path of violence and oppression.

Faced with a regime that “cling[s] to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent,” as President Obama put it in his inaugural address, the rest of the world has an obligation not to “extend a hand” until the Thai government decides to unclench its fist.


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