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029349467 25 October 2012 Re: The UDD’s stance on the TRCT’s final report Dear Emissaries, members of the international community, and foreign press corp, With this letter I seek to clarify the UDD’s stance on the final report of the Truth for Reconciliation Commission of Thailand (TRCT) into the events of April-May 2010. It is the view of the UDD, the victims, and the victims’ families, that the report has failed to provide a pathway to reconciliation in Thailand and has exacerbated the political conflict within Thai society. We believe that the TRCT report seeks to undermine the UDD's peaceful movement for full democracy in Thailand. The hundreds of thousands of protestors who attended the demonstrations in April-May 2010 were only asking for their most basic democratic rights in the shape of fresh elections. The state's violent response to these demands for such basic political rights consisted of deploying 60,000 armed troops, armoured vehicles, and snipers against the protestors. We would like to bring your attention to the following facts which, among others, undermine the credibility of the TRCT report. 1. Partial Inception From the onset, the commission’s stated mission of conducting an impartial investigation that would pave the way for national reconciliation was undermined by the fact that its members were selected by the very unelected government that committed the atrocities in question. International norms set by historical precedents of TRC's elsewhere dictate that such commissions should be set up once the administration responsible for the violence has been removed and the people have elected their own government. The head of the commission, Kanit Nakorn, was far from a neutral investigator. He had a well-known dispute with former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra which led him to leave Thai Rak Thai party. He was later appointed as chairman of a committee tasked with the investigation into Thaksin's 'war on drugs', during which he published reports stating that Thaksin Shinawatra had committed crimes against humanity. He has since publicly expressed his deep opposition to Thaksin and the Pheu Thai Party, in what can only be described as a highly unprofessional and politicized manner. He has also publicly suggested that Thaksin should stay away from Thailand and never return for the sake of the country.
Furthermore, other members of the TRCT are deeply politicized and severely compromised the commission's supposed objectivity. These members include: Somchai Homlaor, chairman of the fact-finding subcommittee and who supported the 2006 military coup; Meta Mashkao, People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) member; and Chaiwat Treewittaya, PAD chief of security. 2. Flawed methodology The report's flawed methodology highlights the bias of the commission. The report uses unfounded and unverifiable information derived primarily from the military, the CRES, and members of the Democrat party. There is no critical examination of the sources used. In several instances, the report's findings conflict with established facts, such as the Pan Kamgong court ruling. In addition, there is no chronological outline of the events in order to ascertain the context of how they took place. By not employing acceptable means of investigation, the information was selected to suit the commissions pre-conceived conclusions. Instead of drawing their conclusions from facts, the TRCT only included ‘facts’ that conformed to the Abhisit government’s narrative that the UDD led a violent protest that could only be contained by military force. In so doing, the commission consciously excluded an abundance of photo and video evidence that unequivocally proves that snipers and live ammunition were used against unarmed civilians, medical staff, and foreign journalists. Information that shines a negative light on the UDD and Thaksin was favored over information that helps explain the complex process which led the CRES to use deadly military force against Thai civilians. 3. Unsubstantiated claims A significant part of the report’s mere 300 pages is dedicated to claims that remain unsubstantiated. For instance, the report focuses excessively on the 'men in black', an armed militia that allegedly emerged on the night of April 10 2010, who were supposedly acting on behalf of the Red Shirts. However, the claim is never substantiated with any evidence or logical reasoning, and contradicts findings of previous police investigations, court verdicts, eye witness accounts, and hard evidence. The report paints an image of 'men in black' with AK47s and M79s on a rampage of death and destruction, in contrast to a court ruling which found the authorities guilty for the death case of Pan Kamgong, a taxi driver who had been killed by soldiers. Furthermore, forensic evidence has proven that deaths of protestors were caused by bullets fired from M16 and M67 hand grenades, both of which are military weapons. Meanwhile, the obvious violence on behalf of the state was intentionally and conveniently ignored. While the TRCT could only offer an unsubstantiated account of the ‘men in black’, or ‘Black Shirts’, the UDD has repeatedly shown evidence in the form of photographs, video footage, international press reports, and eye witness accounts that contradict the theory that said individuals were acting on behalf of the Red Shirts. However, evidence that indicates a link between the ‘Black Shirts’ and the Royal Thai Army (RTA) was completely ignored by the TRCT.