Update: Writers’ call to amend Article 112

Prachatai: June 15, 2011

http://www.prachatai3.info/english/node/2589

 

As of 15 June, 336 writers have signed the petition to amend the lèse majesté law and to stop using the law to suppress the expression of political views.

The petition was started on 19 May by a group of 8 well-known young writers who sent an open letter asking their peers to join their call.  Shortly afterwards, however, one of them withdrew from the campaign for personal reasons.

The seven writers are Binla Sankalakhiri, Prabda Yun, Duangruethai Aesanachatang, Sakariya Amataya, Kittipol Sarakkanon, Woraphoj Phanpong and Wad Rawi.

In their video clip posted on the Vimeo website on 7 June, they said that those who had signed their open letter included senior and young writers, well-known artists and poets, winners of major national literary awards, columnists, editors, documentary writers, critics, translators, bloggers, copy writers, songwriters, cartoonists, etc.  The name list can be found here.

แถลงข่าวเรื่อง จดหมายเปิดผนึกถึงเพื่อนนักเข from duhlagalaladum on Vimeo.

These signatories hold diverse beliefs and different political views, and their colour-coded political identification ranges from multi-coloured, orange, rainbow, black, white, reddish and red to pink, the writers said.

There are many more writers who support or agree with the campaign, but cannot give their names for various reasons.  This all the more confirms the belief that the lèse majesté issue is a problem which suppresses freedom of expression, they said.

The lèse majesté law needs to be reviewed and amended for Thai society to become a democracy which truly allows freedom of expression, they said.

They hope that their voice will be heard by politicians and all members of the elite.

The group will close the sign-on petition and release a statement on 24 June at 11 pm.

คัดค้านการคุกคามสิทธิเสรีภาพประชาชนด้วย “กฎหมายหมิ่นฯ”

SIGN THE PETITION! – http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/article112may012011statement/

[ENGLISH FOLLOWS]

(กรณีล่าสุด สมยศ พฤกษาเกษมสุข )

 

นับแต่รัฐประหาร 19 กันยายน พ.ศ. 2549 เป็นต้นมา มีผู้ได้รับผลกระทบจากประมวลกฎหมายอาญามาตรา 112 หรือ “กฎหมายหมิ่นพระบรมเดชานุภาพ” ทั้งทางตรงและทางอ้อมเป็นจำนวนมาก เฉพาะในช่วงตั้งแต่ปี 2548 – 2552 สถิติของคดีเหล่านี้มีมากถึง 547 คดี โดยศาลมีคำตัดสินว่าเป็นการหมิ่นพระบรมเดชานุภาพแล้วจำนวน 247 คดี และล่าสุดในเดือนเมษายน 2554 เพียงเดือนเดียว ได้มีการใช้กฎหมายนี้กับประชาชนในหลายกรณี โดยเท่าที่ปรากฏเป็นรายงานข่าวคือ

 

* การคุกคามสิทธิเสรีภาพในการแสดงความคิดเห็นของ ดร.สมศักดิ์ เจียมธีรสกุล จากกรณีการอภิปรายสาธารณะเกี่ยวกับบทบาทของสถาบันกษัตริย์ในสังคมไทย ซึ่งได้มีการแถลงข่าวเปิดเผยเรื่องนี้เมื่อวันที่ 24 เมษายน ที่ผ่านมา

 

* 27 เมษายน ตำรวจกองปราบฯ ได้เรียกธนาพล อิ๋วสกุล บรรณาธิการนิตยสารฟ้าเดียวกัน เข้าให้ปากคำในฐานะพยาน กรณีมีผู้ฟ้องว่าข้อความในเว็บบอร์ดฟ้าเดียวกัน (ปัจจุบันปิดไปแล้ว) อาจเข้าข่ายหมิ่นพระบรมเดชานุภาพ โดยระบุนามแฝงของผู้โพสต์ เจ้าของกระทู้ และผู้แสดงความเห็นในกระทู้ที่มีข้อความเข้าข่ายดังกล่าว จำนวน 54 รายชื่อ

จาก 46 ยูอาร์แอล (URL)

 

* วันเดียวกัน ได้มีรายงานข่าวการพิจารณาคดีลับที่ศาลทหาร กรุงเทพฯ กับนายทหารอากาศยศนาวาอากาศตรีซึ่งถูกกองทัพอากาศแจ้งความดำเนินคดี จากกรณีที่มีการร้องเรียนว่าทหารอากาศนายนี้โพสต์ข้อความในเฟซบุ๊ก (Facebook) ของตนที่อาจเข้าข่ายหมิ่นพระบรมเดชานุภาพล่าสุด วันที่ 30 เมษายน ได้มีการจับกุมตัวสมยศ พฤกษาเกษมสุข นักกิจกรรมด้านแรงงาน แกนนำกลุ่ม 24 มิถุนาประชาธิปไตย และบรรณาธิการบริหารนิตยสาร วอยซ์ ออฟ ทักษิณ ในข้อหาหมิ่นพระบรมเดชานุภาพ โดยกรมสืบสวนคดีพิเศษ (DSI) บริเวณด่านตรวจคนเข้าเมืองอรัญประเทศ โดยไม่ให้ประกันตัวใดๆ

 

นอกจากความกังวลต่อการเพิ่มขึ้นของคดีตามมาตรานี้ ที่มีอัตราโทษสูงแต่ขาดแนวปฏิบัติที่ชัดเจน ให้อำนาจการฟ้องร้องอย่างกว้างขวาง ถูกใช้เป็นเครื่องมือทางการเมืองของกลุ่มอำนาจบางกลุ่ม และสร้างบรรยากาศแห่งความหวาดกลัวซึ่งกระทบต่อการใช้สิทธิเสรีภาพในการแสดง ความเห็นตามระบอบประชาธิปไตยแล้ว กลุ่ม “มาตรา 112: รณรงค์เพื่อความตื่นรู้” ยังมีความกังวลต่อวิธีการบังคับใช้กฎหมายทั้งในช่วงก่อน ระหว่าง และหลังการไต่สวนคดี อีกด้วย

 

อาทิ การพิจารณาคดีลับ ซึ่ง เป็นข้อยกเว้นอย่างเข้มงวดตามกฎหมายสูงสุดที่มีอยู่ โดยก่อนหน้ากรณีนายทหารอากาศ ก็ได้มีการใช้ในคดีที่ดารณี ชาญเชิงศิลปกุล หรือ “ดา ตอร์ปิโด” เป็นจำเลย จนต่อมาศาลอุทธรณ์ก็ได้ยกคำสั่งลงโทษและให้ส่งเรื่องให้ศาลรัฐธรรมนูญ พิจารณาว่าขัดต่อข้อบัญญัติตามรัฐธรรมนูญหรือ ไม่ ส่วนกรณีของดร.สมศักดิ์ เจียมธีรสกุล รวมถึงผู้โพสต์ข้อความในเว็บบอร์ดฟ้าเดียวกันนั้น ซึ่งเข้าข่ายคุกคามสิทธิเสรีภาพในการแสดงความเห็น และล่าสุด กรณีการจับกุมสมยศ พฤกษาเกษมสุข ซึ่งถูกคัดค้านการให้ประกันตัว โดยอ้างว่าเกรงจำเลยจะหลบหนีหรือไปยุ่งเหยิงกับพยานหลักฐาน ทั้งที่หมายจับในคดีนี้ออกมาตั้งแต่เดือนกุมภาพันธ์ และผู้ถูกกล่าวหาก็ไม่เคยแสดงท่าทีว่าจะหลบหนีแต่อย่างใด

 

กลุ่ม “มาตรา 112: รณรงค์เพื่อความตื่นรู้” จึงมีความเห็นและข้อเรียกร้องดังต่อไปนี้

 

1. หยุดใช้มาตรา 112 คุกคามสิทธิเสรีภาพในการแสดงความคิดเห็นและการดำเนินชีวิตตามปรกติ สร้างบรรยากาศความหวาดกลัวเพื่อควบคุมประชาชน ซึ่งขัดกับหลักสิทธิเสรีภาพในสังคมประชาธิปไตย นอกจากนี้การบังคับใช้กฎหมายพิเศษ เช่น กฎหมายความมั่นคง เพื่อปราบปรามความเห็นต่าง นอกจากจะหมิ่นเหม่ที่จะขัดต่อข้อบัญญัติตามรัฐธรรมนูญมาตรา 29 ที่ห้ามการจำกัดสิทธิและเสรีภาพของบุคคลที่รัฐธรรมนูญรับรองไว้ โดยให้ทำได้ “เท่าที่จำเป็น และจะกระทบกระเทือนสาระสำคัญแห่งสิทธิและเสรีภาพนั้นมิได้” แล้ว ยังขัดกับหลักกฎหมายสากล เช่น ข้อ 19 ของกติการะหว่างประเทศว่าด้วยสิทธิพลเมืองและสิทธิทางการเมือง (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights-ICCPR) ที่คุ้มครองสิทธิที่จะมีเสรีภาพในการแสดงความเห็นด้วย

ทั้งนี้ รัฐพึงมีหน้าที่ปฏิบัติตามข้อบัญญัติในรัฐธรรมนูญ ที่จะส่งเสริมสิทธิที่จะมีเสรีภาพในการแสดงความเห็น มิใช่ใช้ช่องว่างของกฎหมายในการดำเนินคดีมาสร้างบรรยากาศแห่งความหวาดกลัว แก่ประชาชน อย่างที่เป็นอยู่

 

2. ในภาวะที่ยังคงกฎหมายนี้โดยไม่มีการปรับปรุงแก้ไข ควรเปิดเผยกระบวนการสืบสวนสอบสวนและพิจารณาคดีที่เกี่ยวเนื่องให้สาธารณชน รับทราบ และควรมีการออกหมายเรียกก่อนตามกระบวนการดำเนินคดีปรกติ แทนการออกหมายจับหรือเข้าจับกุมทันที

 

3. การพิจารณาคดีลับพึงเป็นข้อยกเว้นอย่างเข้มงวด ไม่ควรอ้างเหตุจำเป็นต้องใช้อย่างพร่ำเพรื่อ อย่างที่มักอ้างว่า “ขัดต่อความสงบเรียบร้อยและศีลธรรมอันดี” ซึ่งเป็นข้ออ้างที่ไม่สามารถพิสูจน์ได้อย่างชัดเจน

 

4. การปฏิบัติตามกระบวนการอันควรตามกฎหมาย (due process) เป็นพื้นฐานนำไปสู่ความรู้สึกที่เป็นธรรมทั้งของผู้ถูกกล่าวหาและสังคมทั่ว ไป แต่ที่ผ่านมาและที่เป็นอยู่ในปัจจุบัน ผู้ถูกกล่าวหาในคดีหมิ่นฯ มักถูกหน่วยงานรัฐคัดค้านการประกันตัวหรือปล่อยตัวชั่วคราว โดยมักอ้างว่าเป็นคดีที่มีอัตราโทษสูง ผู้ถูกกล่าวหาจะหลบหนีและ/หรือยุ่งเหยิงกับพยานหลักฐาน ดังนั้น ทางกลุ่มฯ จึงขอเรียกร้องให้ศาลพิจารณากรณีเหล่านี้อย่างรอบคอบ โดยคำนึงถึงหลักการขั้นต้นเป็นสำคัญ

 

1 พฤษภาคม 2554

 

กลุ่ม “มาตรา 112: รณรงค์เพื่อความตื่นรู้” (Article 112 Awareness Campaign)

และผู้ที่เห็นด้วยกับแถลงการณ์ข้างต้น ดังรายชื่อต่อไปนี้:

 

(ดูรายชื่อด้านล่าง – ใต้ฉบับภาษาอังกฤษ)

 

………………..

 

Oppose violations to citizen’s rights and freedom through the uses of “lese majeste” law (With the latest case of the arrest of Mr. Somyod)

 

Since 19 September 2006 onward, there have been large amount of individuals who are directly and indirectly effected by the Article 112 of the Criminal Code, which is also known as “lese majeste law”. The statistic from 2005-2009 reveals that there are 547 lese majeste cases altogether. 247 cases have reached the verdict. In April 2011 alone, this law has been used on Thai citizens in a wide number of occasions, as has appeared on the news. Here are the cases:

 

* The violation of rights and freedom of expression of Dr. Somsak Jeamteerasakul to be engaged in public debate on the role of the monarchy in Thai society. The press conference on this matter was held on 24 April 2011.

 

* On 27 April 2011, Crime Suppression Division called Thanapol Eawsakul, the editor of Fah Diew Gun (Same Sky) magazine as a witness to the cases which an individual filed a complaint that the Fah Diew Gun web board (now closed) might have committed lese majeste act. 54 aliases of the posters, the owners of the post, and the commentators of the post from 46 URLs were named.

 

* On the same day, a lese majeste case involving an Air Force Lieutenant Commander took place behind close door at the military court in Bangkok. This Air Force Commander was charged with lese majeste based upon a comment that he posted on his own Facebook page.

 

* On 30 April 2011, Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, a labor activist, leader of the 24 June for Democracy Group, and the managing director of Voice of Thaksin has been arrested under lese majeste law by the Department of Special Investigation at Aranyaprathet immigration. He was not allowed to be bail.

 

Apart from the concern on the rising of lese majeste cases, which have high penalty but vague and clear procedure, the law has been used as political tool by some powerful individuals and groups. They are creating the culture of fear and are affecting the rights and freedom of expression under the democratic system. Article 112: Awareness Group is also concern with the usage of the law before, during, and after the court hearings.

 

For example, the close-door hearing is a strict exception according to the highest law. Prior to the case of the close-door hearing of the Air Force Commander, it was also used during the trial of Darunee Charnchernsilpakul, also known as “Da Torpedo”. After that the Appeal Court annulled the penalty and refers the case to the Constitutional Court to rule whether the close-door trial was constitutional or not. On the case of Dr. Somsak Jeamteerasakul and the individuals who made comment on Fah Diew Gun web board are clear violation of the rights and freedom of expression. For the latest case, Somyot Prueksakasemsuk is not granted the right to bail. The argument from the authorities was that they are afraid that the defendant would flee or would mess with the witnesses. The arrest warrant was issued since February and the accused has never shown any attempt to flee whatsoever.

 

 

Article 112: Awareness Campaign Group has comments and demands listed below:

 

1. End the uses of Article 112 to violate rights and freedom of expression and daily livelihood of citizens. Stop creating the culture of fear to control the public. This is the contradiction to the rights and freedom in democratic society. Apart from that, the enforcement of special laws such as security laws to suppress dissidents is violating the Article 29 of the Constitution (the prohibition to limit the rights and freedom of individuals under the constitution could only be made only as needed and cannot violate the key intention points of those rights and freedom”). The laws, apart from violating the constitution, also run against Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which protect the rights to freedom of expression.

Therefore, the government has the obligation to abide by the Constitution and to promote the right to freedom of expression. Legal loopholes should not be used to create the culture of fear to the citizens as is happening now.

 

2. Since there has not yet been amendment to the lese majeste law, the investigation and the court hearing should be made known to the general public. The normal warrant should be made using regular legal procedure rather than using arrest warrant or arrest right away.

 

3. The close trial is a strict exception. It should not be used widely without un-substantive reasons that have been used and cannot be proven such as that the case is “contradicting to peace and public moral”.

 

4. The due process of law is the basic component toward the feeling of justice by both the accused and the general public. In the past until now, the accused in lese majeste laws are often fell as victims to the authorities. They are not allow to be granted bail or are released for a short while. The authorities often give the reason that the penalty is high and that the accused would flee or/and would mess with the evidences. Therefore, the group demands the court to conduct the lese majeste cases with highest level of precision and highlight their principles as their priority.

 

 

 

1 May 2011

Article 112 Awareness Group and individuals who agree with the above statement:

 

1. ขวัญระวี วังอุดม

2. พัชรี อังกูรทัศนียรัตน์

3. วิรพา อังกูรทัศนียรัตน์

4. กานต์ทัศนภักดิ์

5. นภัทร สาเศียร

6. พันธ์ศักดิ์ ศรีเทพ

7. เก่งกิจ กิติเรียงลาภ

8. จีรนุช เปรมชัยพร

9. อธิคม จีระไพโรจน์กุล

10. พรเทพ สงวนถ้อย

11. ภัควดี วีระภาสพงษ์

12. อนุสรณ์ อุณโณ

‎13. ชลิตา บัณฑุวงศ์

14. สุลักษณ์ หลำอุบล

15. อัญชลี มณีโรจน์

16. เกรียงศักดิ์ ธีระโกวิทขจร

17. อดิศร เกิดมงคล

18. นิธินันท์ ยอแสงรัตน์

19. พัชรี แซ่เอี้ยว

20. ภิญญพันธุ์ พจนะลาวัณย์

21. นิพาดา ทองคำแท้

22. ปราบ เลาหะโรจนพันธ์

23. ปกป้อง เลาวัณย์ศิริ

24. วิจักขณ์ พานิช

25. ฉันทลักษณ์ รักษาอยู่

26. พิมพ์สิริ เพชรน้ำรอบ

27. ชัยธวัช ตุลาธน

28. วันรัก สุวรรณวัฒนา

29. ไชยันต์ รัชชกูล

30. เตือนสิริ ศรีนอก

31. ศรีสมร กิจภู่สวัสดิ์

‎32. ดวงฤทัย เอสะนาชาต้ง

33. ภาณุ บุญพิพัฒนาพงศ์

34. พิภพ อุดมอิทธิพงศ์

35. ศราวุฒิ ประทุมราช

36. สิริลักษณ์ ศรีประสิทธิ์

37. ประวิตร โรจนพฤกษ์

38. สุภิตา เจริญวัฒนมงคล

39. รวินทร์ คำโพธิ์ทอง

40. อังคณา นีละไพจิตร

41. สุธารี วรรณศิริ

42. ลักขณา ปันวิชัย

43. สุขุม ชีวาเกียรติยิ่งยง

44. เวียงรัฐ เนติโพธิ์

45. รจเรข วัฒนพาณิชย์

46. เอกฤทธิ์ พนเจริญสวัสดิ์

47. เบญจรัตน์ แซ่ฉั่ว

48. จิตรา คชเดช

49. วิภา มัจฉาชาติ

50. เนติ วิเชียรแสน

51. ชูวัส ฤกษ์ศิริสุข

52. ธนาพล อิ๋วสกุล

53. มานา ชุณห์สุทธิวัฒน์

54. วธู ชุณห์สุทธิวัฒน์

55. กฤตวิทย์ หริมเทพาธิป

56. ธิดา ผลิตผลการพิมพ์

57. วิศิษฏ์ ศาสนเที่ยง

58. ปนิธิตา เกียรติ์สุพิมล

59. สุวิทย์ เลิศไกรเมธี

60. จิราพร กิจประยูร

61. สุริยะ ครุฑพันธุ์

62. อภิณัฐ ภู่ก๋ง

63. ดิน บัวแดง

64. อาทิตย์ เจียมรัตตัญญู

65. ณัฐนพ พลาหาญ

66. อภิวัฒน์ แสงพัทธสีมา

67. เยาวลักษ์ อนุพันธุ์

68. อุเชนทร์ เชียงเสน

69. กฤดิกร วงศ์สว่างพานิช

70. ชุมาพร แต่งเกลี้ยง

71. เทวฤทธิ์ มณีฉาย

72. ดวงใจ พวงแก้ว

73. ธีระพล คุ้มทรัพย์

74. ไชยวัฒน์ ตระการรัตน์สันติ

75. ตากวาง สุขเกษม

76. สุดา รังกุพันธุ์

77. เทพฤทธิ์ ภาษี

78. คมลักษณ์ ไชยยะ

79. เกียรติศักดิ์ ม่วงมิตร

80. ธีรวรรณ บุญญวรรณ

81. ปรัชญา สุรกำจรโรจน์

82. ปุณณวิชญ์ เทศนา

83. ธัญสก พันสิทธิวรกุล

84. อาทิตย์ ศิวะหรรษาพันธ์

85. วิภาวดี พันธุ์ยางน้อย

86. อาทิชา วงเวียน

87. ดวงทิพย์ ฆารฤทธิ์

88. พวงทอง ภวัครพันธุ์

89. จอน อึ๊งภากรณ์

90. สมฤดี วินิจจะกูล

91. ตฤณ ไอยะรา

92. นิรมล ยุวนบุณย์

93. ธนศักดิ์ สายจำปา

94. นันทา เบญจศิลารักษ์

95. สุรชัย เพชรแสงโรจน์

96. ศราวุธ ดรุณวัติ

97. สรวุฒิ วงศ์ศรานนท์

98. แดนทอง บรีน

99. ประทับจิต นีละไพจิตร

100. สุชา สนิทวงศ์ ณ อยุธยา

101. ทองธัช เทพารักษ์

102. กิตติเดช บัวศรี

103. ธิติ มีแต้ม

104. หทัยกานต์ สังขชาติ

105. ธีรมล บัวงาม

106. นาถรพี วงศ์แสงจันทร์

107. วิทยา พันธ์พานิชย์

108. Tyrell Haberkorn

109. นพพร พรหมขัติแก้ว

110. ศรวิษฐ์ โตวิวิชญ์

111. จรินพร เรืองสมบูรณ์

112. ศรายุธ ตั้งประเสริฐ

113. วิรุจ ภูริชานนท์

114. ปราศรัย เจตสันติ์

115. วรรณเกียรติ ชูสุวรรณ

116. อนุธีร์ เดชเทวพร

‎117. เชฏฐพงศ์ จงภัทรนิชพันธ์

118. เสาวนีย์ อเลกซานเดอร์

119. มธุรส ภิรมย์รักษ์

120. พรพิศ ผักไหม

121. ภมร ภูผิวผา

122. กฤตธี ระลึกฤาเดช

‎123. สฤณี อาชวานันทกุล

124. วิภา ดาวมณี

125. วัฒนชัย แจ้งไพร

126. ณัฐพันธุ์ บุญเลิศ

127. อนุราต ซิงห์ ดินด์ซา

128. อัญญกาญ จีระอัญการ

129. ชนรดา นราวศินชัย

130. ภูวิน บุณยะเวชชีวิน

131. Paul Chambers

132. จลารุจ ศิริพานิช

134. พีรเพชร บุรพรัตน์

135. พิเชฐ ยิ่งเกียรติคุณ

136. ภิญญุดา ตันเจริญ

137. ธีรวัฒน์ ทัศนภิรมย์

138. ธีรกิจ วิจิตรอนันต์กุล

139. สุทธิรัตน์ ศุภปริญญา

140. ภาวิณี ชุมศรี

141. Napisa Waitoolkiat

142. มัทนา โกสุมภ์

143. ณัฎฐา เดชะเอื้ออารีย์

144. ชาตรี สมนึก

145. อรุณ ศรีสวัสดิ์

146. ธิกานต์ ศรีนารา

147. เถกิง พัฒโนภาษ

149. บุญส่ง ชัยสิงห์กานานนท์

150. เชษฐา พวงหัตถ์

151. โกวิท แก้วสุวรรณ

152. ชาญณรงค์ บุญหนุน

153. วนิดา เจียมรัมย์

154. เสริม เจียมรัมย์

155. สิทธิ์ เจียมรัมย์

156. ประเวศ ประภานุกูล

157. ธีรพงษ์ กันทำ

158. Tyrell Haberkorn

159. วิภา มัจฉาชาติ

160. อรัญญา ศิริผล

161. พนิดา อนันตนาคม

162. อุกฤษณ์ สงวนให้

163. ปริวัตร พรหมเวชยานนท์

164. เนติวิทย์ โชติภัทร์ไพศาล

165. พาฝัน ศุภวานิช

166. อภิรัฐ เจะเหล่า

167. กฤตยา อาชวนิจกุล

168. ยุกติ มุกดาวิจิตร

169. เกษม เพ็ญภินันท์

170. ธีร์วนี วงศ์ทองสรรค์

171. อุบลรัตน์ ศิริยุวศักดิ์

[FACT comments: We think this plan is really rich! Thailand has never treated refugees with any kindness. However, neither has Malaysia. Australia is, arguably, the blackest of the three on the compassion scale, at least in terms of sheer numbers.

On the mainland of Australia, refugees are held in Draconian prisons in which families are separated. It can take up to a decade for appeals to be heard. Such appeals are rarely successful and refugees are summarily deported with no compensation back to countries picked by Australia without regard for deportees’ personal safety or human rights. This may be the refugee’s country of nationality to which they may no longer have any ties. Govts so repressive their citizens try to escape never look kindly on returned objectors.

Lately, of course, Australia will not even permit refugees to set foot on their national soil lest it give them some claim or even hope. Instead, they have commandeered remoter Christmas Island in the South Pacific to use as a giant refugee prison.

Malaysia and Australia are foxes arguing over the tastiest hens. They have come up with this scheme not for people but for and int’l funding windfall. And now Thailand wants a piece of the pie…

This must be objected to in the strongest possible terms at the UN High Commission for Refugees.]

Thailand interested in Australian asylum seeker swap

Agence France-Presse: May 15, 2011

http://www.thaivisa.com/forum/topic/467906-thailand-interested-in-australian-asylum-seeker-swap/

SIGN THE PETITIONhttp://www.amnesty.org.au/action/action/25588/

 

Thailand is interested in an asylum seeker deal similar to the one Canberra plans with Malaysia as Prime Minister Julia Gillard reiterated Sunday that new boat people will not be processed in Australia.

A week ago Australia announced alterations to its immigration policy designed to break people-smuggling and stem the flood of boats carrying asylum seekers to its shores.

Under the changes, Australia has proposed sending 800 asylum seekers to Malaysia for processing and in return it will accept 4,000 people already assessed by the latter to be refugees for resettlement over four years.

Despite the Malaysia plan sparking criticism that Australia is returning to a disputed policy of banishing boat people to poor neighbours, Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said his country would be interested in a similar deal.

“The agreement between Australia and Malaysia on this particular model based on, I think, five to one ratio is something that the rest of us will be interested to look at,” he said.

Speaking at a press conference late Saturday after talks in Bangkok with his Australian counterpart Kevin Rudd, Piromya said many countries were looking for a systematic way to deal with an influx of asylum seekers.

“The Australian-Malaysian likely agreement would provide some sort of certainty and also a model for others to study,” said Piromya in a transcript supplied by Rudd’s office.

“The whole issue could be discussed further by all the other countries involved.”

Many of the refugees Australia is set to take from Malaysia are from Myanmar, and travelled via Thailand.

Australia is also in negotiations with its impoverished northern neighbour Papua New Guinea on opening an immigration processing centre, but no deal has yet been finalised.

Gillard said the message to asylum seekers was crystal clear.

“Don’t come to Australia expecting to be processed because you won’t be,” she told ABC Television.

More than 7,800 boat people have arrived in Australian waters since the beginning of 2010, with the first vessel since the Malaysia swap was announced being intercepted on Friday.

The 32 people on board were taken to Christmas Island, the remote Indian Ocean territory where boat people are normally detained until their claims can be assessed, for identity checks.

Gillard made clear they would then be sent elsewhere.

“We will hold them until we can remove them,” she said.

Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-081-2011

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Asian Human Rights Commission: April 20, 2011
——————————————————
THAILAND: Harassment and Threat to Woman Human Rights Defender in Tak Bai

ISSUES: Human rights defenders; Threats and intimidation
——————————————————

SIGN THE APPEALhttp://www.humanrights.asia/news/urgent-appeals/AHRC-UAC-081-2011

Dear Friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) wishes to draw your attention to the harassment and threats faced by Ms. Yaena Salaemae, a long-time Woman Human Rights Defender (WHRD) in Tak Bai district of Narathiwat province in southern Thailand. The state authorities used an attack on a police checkpoint near her house to search her house and intimidate her. The AHRC believes that this is an outright attempt to intimidate Ms. Yaena and cause her to cease her work calling for justice in the case of the Tak Bai massacre and other cases of human rights violations in southern Thailand. The Asian Human Rights Commission is particularly concerned about the relationship between the threats to Ms. Yaena Salaemae and the ongoing status of the Tak Bai case, and is concerned that this recent harassment may be an attempt by the state to halt progress on the case.

CASE DETAILS: (According to the information received from the Justice for Peace Foundation (JPF))

Yaena Salamae

At 1.30 p.m. on 19 April 2011, unidentified men dressed in clothing similar to army uniforms robbed a vegetable delivery truck and used that truck to attack a police checkpoint in Paiwan subdistrict on the Narathiwat-Tak Bai Road. The checkpoint is located at Salachuak, Moo 6, Salamai, Tak Bai district, Narathiwat. Although there was some damage to the checkpoint from the bullets used during the attack, there were no injuries.

Three hours later, at 4.30 p.m. on 19 April 2011, approximately 20 armed police and army officers surrounded and searched the house of Ms. Yaena Salaemae in Tak Bai district of Narathiwat province. The officers did not present an arrest warrant from the court and only informed Ma. Yaena that they chose to conduct the search based on information from an informant who claimed that Ma. Yaena Salaemae might have been involved in the attack on Paiwan checkpoint. The officers only searched Ms. Yaena’s house – her neighbors’ houses were not searched and they were not questions. No illegal items were found and no suspects were arrested. A record of search confirming this was made and Ms. Yaena signed it. At the conclusion of the search, one of the officers told Ms. Yaena that she should not share information about this incident with Ms. Angkhana Neelaphaijit, chairperson of the Justice for Peace Foundation. By mentioned Ms. Angkhana Neelaphaijit, the state security officials were also indirectly threatening her.

ABOUT MS. YAENA SALAEMAE:

Ms. Yaena Salaemae is a prominent human rights defender in southern Thailand. She has worked closely with the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand and has joined international human rights meetings organized by Frontline International in Dublin in 2009 and the Asian Human Rights Commission in Kwangju, South Korea in 2010.

In particular, she has consistently worked to end impunity in the case of the 25 October 2004 Tak Bai massacre, in which state officials have not yet been held to account and the victims and families of victims have not yet received justice. On 25 October 2004, approximately 1500 citizens were protesting what they believed was the unjust arrest of six Village Defense Volunteers on charges of allegedly stealing guns from the local armory in Tak Bai district of Narathiwat province. Seven civilians were shot and killed during the fighting in front of the Tak Bai police station. At the conclusion of fighting, all remaining protestors were arrested and security forces prepared to transport them to Ingkayuthboriharn Army Camp in neighboring Pattani province, as there was not a facility large enough in Narathiwat to detain 1500 people.

The 1500 protestors were transported the roughly 140 kilometers from Tak Bai district to Inkayuthboriharn Camp in military trucks. There were only twenty-eight trucks available, and so the arrested protestors were handcuffed and then stacked, in four or five horizontal layers in the back of the trucks. An additional 78 people died on the way or shortly after arrival at Inkayuthboriharn. The post-mortem examinations, which were carried out on 26 October 2004, concluded that the causes of death included the following, at times in combination: asphyxiation, pressure on one’s chest, blunt object injuries, and seizures. In May 2009, the Songkhla provincial court ruled that although the 78 people died while in state custody, state officials had not improperly carried out their duties. [See http://thailand.ahrchk.net/takbai/ for more information].

In early 2011, Ms. Yaena led the victims and families of victims to submit a motion urging the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand to file a criminal lawsuit on behalf of the victims for truth and justice in the case of Tak Bai. Technically, this is the duty of the NHRC, but they have not yet taken it up. Since engaging in this action, Ms. Yaena has been interrogated and intimidated by a range of army officers in relation to the potential criminal lawsuit. In addition to this work, she has also assisted Thai PBS in producing a documentary of the Tak Bai massacre.

Ms. Yaena Salaemae does not have any personal disputes with anyone inside or outside the government. In 2007, her husband was assassinated in their village. The assassin is still at-large. She feels as though the current threats to her are related to her role as a human rights activist.

SUGGESTED ACTION:
Please write to the Thai authorities and request that they cease their intimidation and harassment of Ms. Yaena Salaemae.

To support this appeal, please click here: send_small.gif

Sample Letter:

Dear _________,

Name of the person facing threats: Ms. Yaena Salaemae
Date and place of incident: O19 April 2011 at 1:30pm in her home in in Tak Bai district of Narathiwat province
Alleged perpetrators: approximately 20 armed police and army officers

I am deeply disturbed about the news of the harassment, threats, and arbitrary house search of Ms. Yaena Salaemae, a long-time Woman Human Rights Defender (WHRD) in Tak Bai district of Narathiwat province in southern Thailand. According to the information that I have received, it appears that the state authorities used an attack on a police checkpoint near her house to search her house and intimidate her. This appears to be an outright attempt to intimidate Ms. Yaena and cause her to cease her work calling for justice in the case of the Tak Bai massacre and other cases of human rights violations in southern Thailand. Particularly concerning, these threats have come after Ms. Yaena urged the National Human Rights Commission to take up the case of the ongoing lack of resolution in the Tak Bai massacre.

I urge you to investigate the logic and justification for the police and army search of Ms. Yaena’s house. No warrant was presented and Ms. Yaena was told that the search was based on information from an informant. While this is technically legal under martial law and the Emergency Decree, for the purposes of protecting citizens and national security, I am concerned that this arbitrary search has had the opposite effect. In this case, the search has created fear and insecurity for Ms. Yaena and her family.

After the conclusion of the search, Ms. Yaena Salaemae was told by the security officers not to tell Ms. Angkhana Neelaphaijit about the search. Ms. Angkhana is the chairperson of the Justice for Peace Foundation and one of Ms. Yaena’s colleagues working to redress human rights violations in southern Thailand.

Finally, I am particularly concerned about the relationship between the threats to Ms. Yaena Salaemae and the ongoing status of the Tak Bai case, and is concerned that this recent harassment may be an attempt by the state to halt progress on the case. I urge you to put the weight of your office both behind the protection of Ms. Yaena and other human rights defenders and in securing accountability in the case of the Tak Bai massacre.

Yours Sincerely,

—————–
PLEASE SEND LETTERS TO:

1. Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva
Prime Minister
c/o Government House
Pitsanulok Road, Dusit District
Bangkok 10300
THAILAND
Fax: +66 2 288 4000 ext. 4025
Tel: +66 2 288 4000
E-mail: spokesman@thaigov.go.th or abhisit@abhisit.org

2. Mr. Chaowarat Chanweerakul
Minister of Interior
Office of the Ministry of Interior
Atsadang Road, Ratchabophit
Pranakorn, Bangkok 10200
THAILAND
Fax: +66 2 226 4371/ 222 8866
Tel: +66 2 224 6320/ 6341
E-mail: secretary@moi.go.th or om@moi.go.th

3. General Prawit Wongsuwan
Minister of De fence
Office of the Ministry of Defence
Sanamchai Road,
Pranakorn, Bangkok 10200
THAILAND
Fax: +66 2 225 8262
Tel.: + 66 2 222 3121
E-mail: secretary@mod.go.th or om@mod.go.th

4. Mr. Peeraphan Saleeratwipak
Minister of Justice
Office of the Ministry of Justice
Ministry of Justice Building
22nd Floor Software Park Building,
Chaeng Wattana Road
Pakkred, Nonthaburi 11120
THAILAND
Fax: +662 502 6734 / 6884
Tel: +662 502 6776/ 8223
E-mail: secretary@moj.go.th or om@moj.go.th

5. Pol.Gen. Wichean Potephosree
Royal Thai Police
1st Bldg, 7th Floor
Rama I, Patumwan
Bkk 10330
THAILAND
Fax: +66 2 251 5956/ 205 3738/ 255 1975-8
E-mail: feedback@police.go.th

6. Professor Amara Pongsapich
Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand
Office of the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand
The Government Complex Commemorating His Majesty the King’s 80th Birthday Anniversary 5th December, B.E.2550 (2007), Building B
120 Moo 3, Chaengwattana Road
Thoongsonghong, Laksi
Bangkok 10210
THAILAND
Fax: +662 143 9546, +662 143 9575
Tel: +662 141 3800, +662 141 3900
E-mail: amara@nhrc.or.th

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrc.asia)

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Private Manning’s Humiliation

Bruce Ackerman and Yochai Benkler

The New York Review of Books: April 28, 2011

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2011/apr/28/private-mannings-humiliation/?pagination=false&printpage=true

 

Bradley Manning is the soldier charged with leaking US government documents to Wikileaks. He is currently detained under degrading and inhumane conditions that are illegal and immoral.

For nine months, Manning has been confined to his cell for twenty-three hours a day. During his one remaining hour, he can walk in circles in another room, with no other prisoners present. He is not allowed to doze off or relax during the day, but must answer the question “Are you OK?” verbally and in the affirmative every five minutes. At night, he is awakened to be asked again “Are you OK?” every time he turns his back to the cell door or covers his head with a blanket so that the guards cannot see his face. During the past week he was forced to sleep naked and stand naked for inspection in front of his cell, and for the indefinite future must remove his clothes and wear a “smock” under claims of risk to himself that he disputes.

The sum of the treatment that has been widely reported is a violation of the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment and the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee against punishment without trial. If continued, it may well amount to a violation of the criminal statute against torture, defined as, among other things, “the administration or application…of… procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality.”

Private Manning has been designated as an appropriate subject for both Maximum Security and Prevention of Injury (POI) detention. But he asserts that his administrative reports consistently describe him as a well-behaved prisoner who does not fit the requirements for Maximum Security detention. The brig psychiatrist began recommending his removal from Prevention of Injury months ago. These claims have not been publicly contested. In an Orwellian twist, the spokesman for the brig commander refused to explain the forced nudity “because to discuss the details would be a violation of Manning’s privacy.”

The administration has provided no evidence that Manning’s treatment reflects a concern for his own safety or that of other inmates. Unless and until it does so, there is only one reasonable inference: this pattern of degrading treatment aims either to deter future whistleblowers, or to force Manning to implicate Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in a conspiracy, or both.

If Manning is guilty of a crime, let him be tried, convicted, and punished according to law. But his treatment must be consistent with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. There is no excuse for his degrading and inhumane pretrial punishment. As the State Department’s P.J. Crowley put it recently, they are “counterproductive and stupid.” And yet Crowley has now been forced to resign for speaking the plain truth.

The Wikileaks disclosures have touched every corner of the world. Now the whole world watches America and observes what it does, not what it says.

President Obama was once a professor of constitutional law, and entered the national stage as an eloquent moral leader. The question now, however, is whether his conduct as commander in chief meets fundamental standards of decency. He should not merely assert that Manning’s confinement is “appropriate and meet[s] our basic standards,” as he did recently. He should require the Pentagon publicly to document the grounds for its extraordinary actions—and immediately end those that cannot withstand the light of day.

Bruce Ackerman
Yale Law School
New Haven, Connecticut

Yochai Benkler
Harvard Law School
Cambridge, Massachusetts

Additional Signers: Jack Balkin, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Alexander M. Capron, Norman Dorsen, Michael W. Doyle, Randall Kennedy, Mitchell Lasser, Sanford Levinson, David Luban, Frank I. Michelman, Robert B. Reich, Kermit Roosevelt, Kim Scheppele, Alec Stone Sweet, Laurence H. Tribe, and more than 250 others. A complete list of signers has been posted on the blog balkinization.

 

Letters From Fukushima: Tepco Worker Emails

Wall Street Journal: March 28, 2011

http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2011/03/28/letters-from-fukushima-tepco-worker-emails/

 

Workers connect transmission lines to restore electric power supply to nuclear reactors at the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on March 18. [Tokyo Electric Power Co/EPA]

Workers who were exposed to high levels of radiation at the the Fukushima nuclear power plant are transferred to a hospital March 25. [Jiji Press/AFP/Getty Images]

Norio Tsuzumi, center, vice president of Tokyo Electric Power Company, and employees bow their heads to apologize to evacuees at a shelter located 60 km west of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on March 23. [Agence France-Presse/Getty Images]

A protestor wears a gas mask to protest against nuclear plants in front of the Tepco headquarters in Tokyo on March 27. [Agence France-Presse/Getty Images]

An email exchange between a Tokyo Electric Power Co. employee working at one of the Fukushima nuclear power plants and a colleague located at Tokyo headquarters shines a rare light on the gripping personal losses weighing on those battling to bring the nuclear reactors under control. It also gives an inside look at the radically different problems faced by company workers at the plant compared to those being shouldered at headquarters.

The following emails, one signed by a worker at the Fukushima Daini plant near the stricken Fukushima Daiichi reactors and the other by a Tokyo-based Tepco employee, were sent last Wednesday to a private email list and viewed by The Wall Street Journal. A Tepco spokesman verified the emails’ authenticity.

The email exchange was translated into English below. Worker names have been removed.

EMAIL 1

This is [name removed] at the Fukushima Daini plant. I met you a few times at some meetings in the past.

I’m happy to receive an e-mail from you. I had written in hopes that many people would understand the situation in the field.

I felt reassured to receive such a supportive message from [name removed]. Though we’re still in the middle of our fight, we feel a little relieved to know we have the support from a person like [name removed].

I just wanted people to understand that there are many people fighting under harsh circumstances in the nuclear plants. That is all I want.

Crying is useless. If we’re in hell now all we can do is to crawl up towards heaven.

Please watch out for the hidden strength of nuclear power. I’ll make sure we will make a recovery.

I’d like to ask you to continue to support us.

Thank you very much.

From,

Fukushima worker

EMAIL 2

I read your e-mail to me.

(What you wrote) is what I had imagined. But at a loss for words, I could only be overwhelmed with tears.

But as a person living in Tokyo enjoying electricity, there is no time to waste by simply crying.

People in Tokyo are scrambling due to the planned blackout and stockpiling supplies, alternately acting at ease then worried over the spread of radioactive materials. I can only think this situation is strange.

I feel frustrating anger across the nation pointing to Tepco.

I suspect Tepco executives feel it well enough.

But everyone here pays respect and has lowered their head to pray for those who are facing the brunt of it and fighting on the front lines surrounded by enemies.

Although I am not in a position to say such a thing, I beg you to hang in there.

What I can do for you is limited. But when the time comes, we will take our turn to protect you all. Without fail.

From,

Tokyo worker

EMAIL 3

Thank you for your hard work.

I’m sure you are too busy at the disaster unit’s headquarters to look at emails. But I’d like to pass on the current situation at the plants.

We at the plants have been working on restoration work without sleep or rest since the earthquake. About two weeks have passed since the quake, and things have gotten better at 1F (Note — possible reference to Fukushima Plant No. 1, or Daiichi). We wish the cooling efforts will continue to work.

As you know, most of the workers at 1F and 2F (Note — possible reference to Fukushima Plant No. 2, or Daini) are local residents and victims of the quake. There are many workers whose houses were washed away.

I myself have had to stay in the disaster measurement headquarters the entire time ever since the earthquake occurred, and have been fighting alongside my colleagues without any sleep or rest. Personally, my entire hometown, Namie-machi, which is located along the coast, was washed away by the tsunami. My parents were washed away by the tsunami and I still don’t know where they are. Normally I would rush to their house as soon as I could. But I can’t even enter the area because it is under an evacuation order. The Self-Defense Forces are not conducting a search there. I’m engaged in extremely tough work under this kind of mental condition…I can’t take this any more!

The quake is a natural disaster. But Tepco should be blamed for contamination caused by the radioactive materials released from the nuclear plants.

It seems to me local residents’ feelings are heightened so much that the unspoken sentiment is that the quake occurred because of Tepco.

Everyone is away from their hometown and does not know when they can return. We don’t know who to turn to and direct our concern and anger. This is the current reality.

As the new school year starts, local children will have to transfer to schools in their places of refuge. Everyone has lost everything — their home, their job, their school, their friends, their families. Who could stand this reality? I would beg you to share this reality with people inside and outside the company.

I’m not saying workers at the nuclear plants are bad! I’m not saying anyone is bad! But most workers in the plants are local residents. All of us, including myself, are victims of the disaster.

But we are all working hard to complete our tasks as Tepco employees, before thinking of ourselves as disaster victims.

Workers on the second floor in particular were having a tough time. They had to support colleagues on the first floor, who were engaged in restoration work, while ensuring the safety of their own plants. The scene is completely like a war zone.

All the employees are working to their limit, both mentally and physically. Please understand that.

The company may get rid of nuclear power to save the company, but we will fight until the end. I beg you to give us continuous support from the headquarters.

From,

Fukushima worker

UPDATE: The translation of references to the plants as 1F and 2F has been revised in the last email.

 

Emails From Fukushima Reveal Trauma of Japan’s Nuclear Workers

Lauren Frayer

AOL News: March 31, 2011

http://www.aolnews.com/2011/03/31/emails-from-fukushima-reveal-trauma-of-japans-nuclear-workers/

 

Emails and blogs written by Japan’s faceless heroes — the nuclear workers toiling anonymously inside the stricken Fukushima plant — reveal desperation and doubts among workers who fear they may be sacrificing themselves to prevent radiation from spreading to their countrymen.

 

The Japanese government has tried to keep the identities and details of Fukushima’s workers under wraps, and no media have ventured close to the radioactive facility 150 miles north of Tokyo. But some email messages have emerged, reported by several media outlets, that offer a rare glimpse inside the secretive recovery effort at the heart of Japan’s worst crisis since World War II. They also show gripping emotion by workers forced to buckle down and do a dangerous, life-threatening job.

 

“I just wanted people to understand that there are many people fighting under harsh circumstances in the nuclear plants. That is all I want,” one Fukushima worker wrote. “Crying is useless. If we’re in hell now all we can do is to crawl up towards heaven.”

 

 

About 400 TEPCO workers are living within about half a mile of the stricken Fukushima plant, working 12-hour rotating shifts. They eat only two meals a day: crackers and vegetable juice for breakfast, and instant rice for dinner. It’s too difficult to deliver food to the site at midday, so they go without lunch. The workers sleep in conference rooms, corridors and stairwells, with one blanket each and a lead mat to try to prevent radiation exposure. The level of contamination they’ve been exposed to is still unknown.

 

Another Tokyo Electric Power Co. employee in the capital, writing to a Fukushima worker, acknowledged to his colleague that “what I can do for you is limited. But when the time comes, we will take our turn to protect you all. Without fail.”

 

“Everyone here pays respect and has lowered their head to pray for those who are facing the brunt of it and fighting on the front lines surrounded by enemies,” the Tokyo employee wrote. “Although I am not in a position to say such a thing, I beg you to hang in there.”

 

A third message appears to be from a Fukushima supervisor writing to several TEPCO employees, and begins in a professional manner, thanking employees for their hard work and outlining the status of recovery operations at certain plants. But then the writer breaks down.

 

“My parents were washed away by the tsunami and I still don’t know where they are,” the supervisor wrote. “I’m engaged in extremely tough work under this kind of mental condition. … I can’t take this any more!”

 

“Everyone is away from their hometown and does not know when they can return. We don’t know who to turn to and direct our concern and anger,” he wrote. “This is the current reality.”

 

WikiLeaks Is Democracy

On Behalf Of Julian Assange And WikiLeaks

SIGN THE PETITION: http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/1312/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=5359

 

We, the undersigned, stand in defense of Julian Assange, WikiLeaks and their actions to safeguard and advance democracy, transparency and government accountability, as protected under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

 

Wikileaks performs an invaluable service to the broad U.S. and global public with a commitment to the protection of human rights and the rule of law.  Government representatives have issued serious and unjustified threats against Mr. Assange and his non-profit media organization which serve only to maintain a cloak of secrecy around high crimes and violations of international law, including torture, tampering with democratically elected governments, illegal bombings and wars, surveillance, mass slaughter of innocent civilians and more.

 

We call on all governments, organizations, and individuals of conscience forcefully to condemn and reject all U.S. efforts to fraudulently criminalize the legitimate journalism of Julian Assange, WikiLeaks and related efforts to expose an increasingly lawless U.S. government to the indispensable democratic requirement of public scrutiny. True or false, any charges which the Swedish government may pursue are irrelevant to the primacy of an independent free press.

 

Journalists should not be made into criminals for publishing materials critical of the government.  Therefore, we reject any efforts to extradite Julian Assange to the United States or allied client states in relation to these matters. We condemn and reject every incitement to murder, incarcerate or in any way harm Mr. Assange. We encourage all those with information on corruption and violations of law to take courage from the example of Mr. Assange and WikiLeaks by acting to expose all such information into the light of public and judicial review.

 

Petition: Free Woman Who Was Jailed for Life at 16 for Killing Her Rapist

Change.org

http://humantrafficking.change.org/blog/view/join_the_campaign_to_free_child_trafficking_victim_sara_kruzan

 

Sara Kruzan is a victim of human trafficking, who, because of a crime she committed as a traumatized and enslaved child, has now spent over half her life in prison. But across America and around the world, hundreds of thousands of voices are now uniting in a call to justice for Sara and other children like her. Their message is clear: Governor Schwarzenegger, if you do one thing before you leave office, release child trafficking victim Sara Kruzan with time served.

Sara Kruzan was an 11-year-old girl when she first met G.G., the 31-year-old man who would become her pimp. G.G. groomed Sara for two years by buying her gifts and taking her roller skating. Since Sara’s mother was addicted to drugs, being with G.G. felt like having a real parent around. But when she was 13, he raped her to initiate her into prostitution. G.G. then forced Sara and several other young girls to sell sex on the streets from 6pm to 6am, every night.  Twelve hours a night, seven nights a week, for three years, Sara was sold to strangers so G.G. could profit. She was in every sense, a modern-day slave. At just sixteen and with no other perceivable way out, she shot him.

Despite her young age, her severe trauma, and her status as a child trafficking victim, Sara was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. She was sentenced to a life without the possibility of redemption. She was sentenced to a life without hope.

But a national, grassroots movement is underway to get freedom and justice for Sara. On Change.org alone, nearly 20,000 people have signed petitions supporting Sara’s freedom. Change.org members are publicly expressing their outrage at the serious miscarriage of justice in Sara’s sentence of life without the possibility of parole. As Change.org reader Michelle Quann commented,

“You have a minor child being sexually victimized by an adult, and when her fragile psyche finally snaps and she reacts in such a primitive “child-like” way the courts want to treat her as an adult (which she isn’t) … What poor judgement and lack of concern for the victim in this case.”

And the movement isn’t limited to Change.org. Anti-trafficking, human rights, and youth advocacy organizations from across the country have been sending letters to Gov. Schwarzenegger, asking him to grant Sara’s clemency petition and release her with time served. As GEMS Executive Director Rachel Lloyd says,

“Sara’s been victimized three times — once by the institutions who failed her, once by the men who bought and sold her, and now by the criminal justice system that plans to incarcerate her for the rest of her life.”

And according to Alison Parker, Director of the U.S. Program for Human Rights Watch,

“Sara Kruzan is an outstanding example of why the life without parole sentence for people who were under 18 when they committed their crimes is a human rights violation and fundamentally unfair. She was a child in a coercive situation not taken into account when she was sentenced. Now, she has changed. This sentence is so wrong for kids, because it says there is no chance of redemption.”

But Sara is redeemed. She has become a model prisoner and deeply regrets her actions. But she has now spent over half her life in prison for a crime she committed as a trafficked, traumatized child. She’s served her time. Now, Sara deserves a chance to heal from her pain and trauma, recover from the abuse of sex trafficking, and finally live in freedom after being enslaved or imprisoned since she was 13 years old. She deserves hope. You can watch her incredibly compelling story unfold below.

Please, give Sara hope by asking Governor Schwarzenegger to grant her clemency with time served before he leaves office in December.

 

[FACT comments: This Asia Sentinel article, long blocked by Thai govt, is a bit old and we’ve posted it here already. But on rereading these and reflecting that a respected academic was driven into exile over them still makes us mad as hell!]

Details of Ungpakorn’s Lèse Majesté Charges

Asia Sentinel: January 21, 2009

http://www.asiasentinel.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1678&Itemid=185&limit=1&limitstart=1

 

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

 

Do these passages guarantee a long stint in a Thai prison?

The eight paragraphs that appear below were taken from the charges of lese majeste that were filed against the Thai social activist and Professor Giles Ji Ungpakorn on January 21. The charges, according to the charge sheet, arise from the fact that the Director of Chulalongkorn University’s bookshop informed Thailand’s Special Branch that the book from which they were taken insulted the Thai monarchy. As Ungpakorn pointed out, “the bookshop is managed by the academic management of the university. So much for academic freedom.”

Herewith we print the passages in full, minus only Ungpakorn’s footnotes, which we dropped for journalistic reasons. We leave it to the readers to decide whether they should guarantee a professor and social activist the potential of 15 years in a Thai prison.
Paragraphs deemed to have insulted the monarchy:
(1) The major forces behind the 19th September coup were anti-democratic groups in the military and civilian elite, disgruntled business leaders and neo-liberal intellectuals and politicians. The coup was also supported by the monarchy. What all these groups have in common is contempt and hatred for the poor. For them, “too much democracy” gives “too much” power to the poor electorate and encourages governments to “over-spend” on welfare. For them, Thailand is divided between the “enlightened middle-classes who understand democracy” and the “ignorant rural and urban poor”. In fact, the reverse is the case. It is the poor who understand and are committed to democracy while the so-called middle classes are determined to hang on to their privileges by any means possible.
(2) The junta claimed that they had appointed a “civilian” prime minister. Commentators rushed to suck up to the new prime minister, General Surayud, by saying that he was a “good and moral man”. In fact, Surayud, while he was serving in the armed forces in 1992, was partly responsible for the bloodbath against unarmed pro-democracy demonstrators. He personally led a group of 16 soldiers into the Royal Hotel which was a temporary field hospital. Here, his soldiers beat and kicked people. News reports from the BBC and CNN at the time show soldiers walking on top of those who were made to lie on the floor. Three months after the 2006 coup, on the 4th December, the king praised Prime Minister Surayud in his annual birthday speech.
(3)  The members of the military-appointed parliament received monthly salaries and benefits of almost 140,000 baht while workers on the minimum wage receive under 5000 baht per month and many poor farmers in villages live on even less. These parliamentarians often drew on multiple salaries. The government claimed to be following the king’s philosophy of “sufficiency” and the importance of not being greedy. Apparently everyone must be content with their own level of Sufficiency, but as Orwell might have put it, some are more “sufficient” than others. For the Palace, “sufficiency” means owning a string of palaces and large capitalist conglomerates like the Siam Commercial Bank. For the military junta it means receiving multiple fat cat salaries and for a poor farmer it means scratching a living without modern investment in agriculture. The finance minister explained that sufficiency economics meant “not too much and not too little”: in other words, getting it just right. No wonder Paul Handley described sufficiency economics as “pseudo-economics”! In addition to this, the junta closed the Thaksin government’s Poverty Reduction Centre, transferring it to the office of the Internal Security Operations Command and transforming it into a rural development agency using Sufficiency Economics.
(4) It should not be taken for granted that the anti-Thaksin military-bureaucratic network is a network led by or under the control of the monarchy, despite any royal connections that it might have. Paul Handley argues that the monarchy is all powerful in Thai society and that its aim is to be a just (Thammaracha) and Absolute Monarch. For Handley, Thaksin was challenging the monarchy and seeking to establish himself as “president”. There is little evidence to support the suggestion that Thaksin is a republican. There is also ample evidence in Handley’s own book that there are limitations to the monarchy’s power. Never the less, Handley’s suggestion that the 19th September coup was a royal coup, reflects a substantial body of opinion in Thai society.

(5) The monarchy over the last 150 years has shown itself to be remarkably adaptable to all circumstances and able to gain in stature by making alliances with all sorts of groups, whether they be military dictatorships or elected governments. The monarchy may have made mild criticisms of the Thaksin government, but this did not stop the Siam Commercial Bank, which is the Royal bank, from providing funds for the sale of Thaksin’s Shin Corporation to Temasek holdings. Nor should it be assumed that Thaksin and Thai Rak Thai were somehow “anti-Royalist”. For over 300 years the capitalist classes in many countries have learnt that conservative constitutional monarchies help protect the status quo under capitalism and hence their class interests. However, it is also clear that the Thai king is more comfortable with military dictatorships than with elected governments. This explains why the monarchy backed the 19 September coup.
(6) In April 2006 the present Thai monarch stated on the issue of the use of Section 71[7] that: “I wish to reaffirm that section 7 does not mean giving unlimited power to the monarch to do as he wishes… Section 7 does not state that the monarch can make decisions on everything… if that was done people would say that the monarch had exceeded his duties. I have never asked for this nor exceeded my duties. If this was done it would not be democracy.” However, by September and certainly by December, the king publicly supported the coup.
(7)For this reason there is a very important question to ask about the 19th September 2006 coup. Did the Thai head of state try to defend democracy from the military coup which destroyed the 1997 Constitution on the 19th September? Was the head of state forced to support the military junta? Did he willingly support those who staged the coup? Did he even plan it himself, as some believe? These are important questions because the military junta who staged the coup and destroyed democracy have constantly claimed legitimacy from the head of state. Starting in the early days of the coup they showed pictures of the monarchy on TV, they tied yellow royalist ribbons on their guns and uniforms and asked the head of state to send his representative to open their military appointed parliament. Later in his annual birthday speech in December, the King praised the military prime minister. We need the truth in order to have transparency and in order that civil society can make all public institutions accountable. What we must never forget is that any institution or organization which refuses to build transparency can only have conflicts of interest which it wishes to hide.
(8) In the early part of his reign the monarch was young and unprepared for the job. He only became King because of an accident which happened to his elder brother. More than that, the Thai government at the time was headed by General Pibun who was an anti-Royalist. Therefore the Monarchy faced many problems in performing its duties as head of state. This helps perhaps to explain why the monarchy supported the military dictatorship of Field Marshall Sarit. It is Sarit who was partly responsible for promoting and increasing respect for the monarchy. But many years have passed. The status and experience of the Thai head of state have changed. The monarch has much political experience, more than any politician, due to the length of time on the throne. Therefore the monarch today exhibits the confidence of one who has now gained much experience. For example, he chastised elected governments, like that of Prime Minister Thaksin. The important question for today therefore is: if the monarch can chastise the Thaksin government over the human rights abuses in the War on Drugs, why cannot the Monarch chastise the military for staging a coup and abusing all democratic rights?

 

Please sign this open letter

Stop the use of “lese majesty” in Thailand. Defend freedom of speech

 

We, the undersigned, oppose the use of lese majeste in Thailand in order to prevent freedom of speech and academic freedom. We demand that the government cease all proceedings in lese majeste cases.

The 19th September 2006 military coup in Thailand claimed “Royal legitimacy” in order to hide the authoritarian intentions of the military junta. Lese Majeste charges have not been used to protect “Thai Democracy under a Constitutional Monarchy” as claimed. The charges are used against people who criticised the coup and disagree with the present destruction of democracy. They are used to create a climate of fear and censorship.

One obvious case is that of Associate Professor Giles Ji Ungpakorn, from the Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University. He is facing Lese Majeste charges for writing a book “A Coup for the Rich”, which criticised the 2006 military coup. (Read the book at http://wdpress.blog.co.uk/). Others who have been accused of Lese Majeste are former government minister Jakrapop Penkae, who asked a question at the Foreign Correspondent’s Club in Bangkok, about exactly what kind of Monarchy we have in Thailand. There is also the case of Chotisak Oonsung, a young student who failed to stand for the King’s anthem in the cinema. Apart from this there are the cases of Da Topedo and Boonyeun Prasertying. In addition to those who opposed the coup, the BBC correspondent Jonathan Head, an Australia writer names Harry Nicolaides, social critic Sulak Sivaraksa are also facing charges. The latest person to be thrown into jail and refused bail is Suwicha Takor, who is charged with Lese Majeste for surfing the internet. The Thai Minister of Justice has called for a blanket ban on reporting these cases in the Thai media. The main stream Thai media are obliging. Thus we are seeing a medieval style witch hunt taking place in Thailand with “secret” trials in the courts. The Justice Ministry is also refusing to publish figures of lese majeste cases.

 

We call for the abolition of les majeste laws in Thailand and the defence of freedom and democracy.

 

Signed…..

 

 

Say No to Nokia!

Access Now!: October 14, 2010

http://www.accessnow.org/page/s/notonokia

 

One of the world’s most prestigious technology brands, Nokia Siemens, has been engaging in a dirty trade: selling surveillance technology to repressive regimes. Under pressure last year from Access and other organizations, their executives were forced to finally admit their technology was used to “suppress dissent” in Iran, but despite their PR spin, Nokia Siemens hasn’t really changed.

Nokia Siemens still has “technical contractual links” with its old human tracking business, many senior staff who were at Nokia Siemens have simply transferred to the private and unaccountable holding company that Nokia Siemens hurriedly offloaded their surveillance technology business to, and this month, they are immorally defending themselves in court against an innocent Iranian journalist who was reportedly hunted down using Nokia’s technology.

 

Nokia Siemens is doing damage control. Sign the petition below to tell Nokia Siemens that none of us, including their customers, accept their claims of innocence, and we’ll take our global petition to where it counts — their shareholders, their management, and their governments: http://www.accessnow.org/page/s/notonokia

Read this on Nokia Siemens’ website: “In cases where the company has previously provided networks, products and/or services in Iran, the company would be willing to accept contract extensions … “! How can they turn a blind eye to the abuses perpetrated by this regime just for profit?

It gets worse, despite their denials, the technology Nokia Siemens sold to Iran has the capacity to intercept text messages and internet traffic – not just voice communications, as they claim (we’ve tracked down the product brochure). And what of the other 59 countries that Nokia has sold its dirty technology to? Enough is enough. Say No to Nokia and their friends by adding your name to this petition, and take a stand against the trafficking of human surveillance technology: http://www.accessnow.org/page/s/notonokia

The impact of this sort of technology is real: Isa Saharkhiz has now been in jail for 14 months, his ribs have been broken and he’s 50 pounds lighter than when he was picked up. Amnesty International has called Isa ” a prisoner of conscience” and the UN has called his imprisonment “arbitrary” and called for his “immediate and unconditional release.” Still Nokia Siemens is denying any responsibility for his arrest, suggesting that Isa and his son Mehdi are suing “the wrong party, and on the wrong premise.”

Knowingly selling surveillance technology to a regime that is renowned for human rights abuses should be illegal. While we’ve yet to win in the court of law, let’s make sure we win now in the court of public opinion. We know one thing works with these companies: naming, shaming, and regulating. Join us in saying ‘No to Nokia’, and we’ll stand firm against their shareholders, their management and their governments: http://www.accessnow.org/page/s/notonokia

Trade in these underground technologies is far less likely when it’s exposed. Now the spotlight is on; let’s set a precedent for other companies who engage in the sale of interception technologies and help to ensure that democracy movements and human rights defenders aren’t hunted down and trapped for simply using their mobile phones.

With hope,
The Access Team

 

Sources:

Amnesty International. (2009, July 6). Document-Iran: Disappeared journalist at risk of torture: Issa Saharkhiz. Retrieved October 11, 2010 from: http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/MDE13/067/2009/en/d57244e9-8fe9-478d-bf31-965eec95f6bb/mde130672009en.html

Farrar, J. (2010, August 20). Nokia Siemens Networks respond to Iran human rights abuses claims. Retrieved October 11, 2010 from: http://www.zdnet.com/blog/sustainability/nokia-siemens-networks-respond-to-iran-human-rights-abuses-claims/1351

Lake, E. (2009, April 13). Fed contractor, cell phone maker sold spy system to Iran. The Washington Times. Retrieved October 5, 2010 from: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/apr/13/europe39s-telecoms-aid-with-spy-tech/?page=1

Madari, S. (2009, July 18). Nokia Siemens monitoring system: Action to disrupt the monitoring system used by the Iranian regime. Retrieved October 5, 2010 from: http://shariatmadari.wwebb.info/nokia-siemens-monitoring-system/#respond

New information technologies and human rights: Hearing before the Subcommittee on Human Rights. 7th European Parliament. (2010, June 2). (Testimony of Barry French, Nokia Siemens Network Executive Board Member and Head of Marketing and Corporate Affairs). Retrieved October 5, 2010 from: http://www.nokiasiemensnetworks.com/news-events/press-room/statement-to-the-public-hearing-on-new-information-technologies-and-human-rights

Nokia Siemens Networks. (2010). Corporate responsibility: Privacy and human rights. Retrieved October 6, 2010 from: http://www.nokiasiemensnetworks.com/about-us/corporate-responsibility/corporate-responsibility-report-2009/privacy/privacy-and-human-rig

Nokia Siemens Networks. (2010, August 20). Response to lawsuit filed by Isa and Mehdi Saharkhiz against Nokia Siemens Networks [Press Statement]. Retrieved October 5, 2010 from: http://www.nokiasiemensnetworks.com/news-events/press-room/statement-to-activist-sues-nokia-siemens-networks

Nokia Siemens Networks. (2007). Intelligence solution monitoring center: Keep your eyes open [Brochure]. Available at: http://www.accessnow.org/page/-/docs/Nokia%20Siemens%20Intelligence%20Solutions%20Monitoring%20Center%20Brochure.pdf

Sharooz, K. (2010, August 28). Suing repression’s service provider: Nokia Siemens, meet the Alien Tort Statute – a U.S. detour for justice. PBS. Retrieved October 11, 2010 from: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/tehranbureau/2010/08/suing-repressions-service-provider.html

Trovicor GmbH. (2010). Company History. Retrieved October 11, 2010 from: http://www.trovicor.de/en/about-us/company-history.html

 

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