Pubdate: Mon, 29 Mar 2004
Source: Nation, The (Thailand)
Copyright: 2004 Nation Multimedia Group
Author: Peter Marshall


In his letter of 13 March ["Freedom is a blessing to be enjoyed, not
abused"] John Arnone expresses his displeasure with people who have the
temerity to compare PM Thaksin with Hitler: "I will not apologise for
believing that there is no place in public print for such drivel."

He then goes on to say: "Everyone seems so concerned with democratic
principles; yet over and over I have seen the government publicly
accused of murder in newspapers. If we are so concerned with
democracy, then maybe it is time to consider 'due process'. And if
there isn't sufficient evidence available to bring due process, then
maybe we should just shut up."

John Arnone, for a start, might like to consider what "due process"
was brought in the investigation of the deaths of 2,200 alleged drug
criminals last year, with human-rights activists accusing the
government of a "shoot-to-kill" policy. The government even refused
permission for a special envoy to visit the country on behalf of the
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

To date, as far as I know, not one single police officer has been
brought to a court of law for the unlawful killing of a suspected drug
dealer during this period.

No wonder the US State Department's report on human-rights practices
in Thailand was so critical and damning.

Also one might wonder what "due process" will be considered and
brought about in the matter of the missing human-rights lawyer Somchai
Neelaphaijit. The Asian Human Rights Commission has expressed concern
that the government or its apparatus may be involved in his

An early indicator of this government's very own special type of "due
process" was Thaksin's very brief and inadequate response that
Somchai's circumstances were "unknown".

And at the end of last month, Thaksin ordered yet another round of
drug suppression, which will last from the middle of this month to
May, though I doubt very much whether the relatives of the slain will
have much "due process" to look forward to when they wonder why their
loved ones were murdered.As far as Thaksin is concerned, he is to be
trusted and followed nonetheless, since any doubt in his policies or
the ethics underpinning those policies is only in the eye of the beholder.

Peter Marshall
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