Why was Harry charged?-Eureka Street

February 27, 2009

[FACT comments: We have heard various rumours as to why Harry was really charged with lese majeste so we’ll air them here and now. The first was for publicity seeking; we find this conclusion demeaning and unreasonable. The second is that Harry wrote criticism or suggestion regarding one of the King’s projects in the North. The third is simply this article which waved a red flag in front of the police. This smells like a set-up, Harry. “The dummies lacked verisimilitude.” Sheesh…]

Dummy cops leave child porn unchecked
Harry Nicolaides
Eureka Street: July 29, 2008


In a small dimly-lit room at the Burmese immigration office, on the border of northern Thailand and Burma, there is a large, luminous portrait of General Than Shwe, festooned with medals and ribbons.

His steely gaze surveys the hundreds of foreign tourists who cross the border bridge to visit the ramshackle, open air market at Tachilek each day. He is also the embodiment of the strict and relentless censorship of everything, from poetry to the latest Rambo film (set in Burma), controlled by his Orwellian regime.

Less than 50 meters away, under the bridge on the Burmese side, you can buy, for a little over a dollar, films depicting the sexual abuse and torture of British, American, European and Asian children. Some are aged as young as four while none is older than 12.

And unless you are a saffron-robed monk, you will not be searched on the way back across the border into Thailand.

While the market at Tachilek is notorious for fake designer goods, dubious precious gemstones, the teeth, skulls and skins of endangered animals and phony pharmaceuticals, the child pornography is real. The tears and shrieks are not the result of dubbing or digital manipulation.

The graphic footage of a five-year-old Cambodian girl having her arms strapped to her legs with electrical tape before being subjected to unspeakable violations is unrehearsed.

The diminutive seven-year-old British girl who is raped by a 200 pound, black-hooded man while another man films, has been deceived by a man she trusts.

The Indian girl, aged about six, wearing only school socks and shoes has not been groomed to look like a primary school student — she is one. And she is violently raped.

While the fake designer goods are mass produced for a large diverse market, thousands of such films are sold exclusively to a dedicated group of connoisseurs by the world’s most malevolent cottage industry.

The market and the bridge crossing at Mai Sai are well known to international human rights groups, NGOs and law enforcement bodies as strategically important to regional human trafficking and narcotics smuggling.

On the Burmese mountains and in the dark ravines there are dozens of makeshift camps where ethnic minorities, uprooted, persecuted and displaced by Burma’s military regime, seek refuge. Many of them make their way to Thailand to find work.

On the Thai side, in the lowlands of rice and corn fields, are hundreds of crumbling orphanages where large rickety chalk boards bear the names of thousands of children. As one aid worker said, even these vast lists do not reflect the real number of transient children in care.

And while Thailand has set up roadside checkpoints on the highway between Chiang Rai and Mai Sai, in reality they consist of life-sized, fiber-glass figures of Thai police officers, signalling to drivers to stop. Sadly, unlike the fake designer goods at the Tachilek market, the dummies lack verisimilitude.

Burma is a party to the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of the Child (1990) but has not yet signed the Optional Protocol (2000) on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.

Nations and states that are parties to the convention and optional protocol are, in addition to protecting children from all forms of abuse and exploitation, obliged to take appropriate measures to thwart the production and distribution of child pornography.

In addition, Burma’s own child laws state that it is a punishable offence to use children in the making of pornographic material while its penal code makes it illegal to exhibit or distribute any obscene material. The penalties range from fines to terms of imprisonment of up to two years.

However, with Burma’s state infrastructure and law enforcement bodies riddled with corruption it’s no surprise the Tachilek market is honeycombed with illegal goods.

Behind legitimate shop fronts are secret doors and false walls leading to hidden inner-rooms where thousands of films depicting the most depraved social taboos are displayed and sold.

The trade in child pornography flourishes while the omniscient Burmese regime scrutinises the plots of the latest Hollywood films for conspiracies and subversion against the state — when the greatest subterfuge is within.

There are no borders or checkpoints on route to the heart of darkness.

Harry Nicolaides is a Melbourne-born freelance writer living in Northern Thailand.

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