Tuesday, August 9, 2016

A Conversation with Amnesty International Thailand

When foreign-funded politically-motivated agendas become involved, human rights advocacy is hidden behind, not stood up for.

August 10, 2016 (ATN) - Human rights is undoubtedly a serious issue that provokes passion in honest people across both the public and within governments around the world. And because it is a powerful issue -emotionally and politically - it is used and abused by both honest and dishonest interests.

 Amnesty International describes itself on its main webpage as:
Amnesty International is a global movement of more than 7 million people who take injustice personally. We are campaigning for a world where human rights are enjoyed by all.
However, over the years, as it has worked its way into nations around the world, side-by-side US State Department and British Foreign Office-funded organizations masquerading as "nongovernmental organizations" (NGOs), Amnesty has weaponized human rights advocacy.

It has used fictitious reports to help feed the cause of war from Libya to Syria, and has both exaggerated human rights abuses to favor Western-backed political fronts, and helped cover them up when seeking to harm the targets of Western interests.

While nations like Syria and Libya have been virtually destroyed through this process - with Amnesty International's lies helping make the case for acts of aggression the United States and its allies have even christened "humanitarian wars" - in other nations it helps accelerate the cancerous rot foreign-funded agitators induce as they ceaselessly work to undermine peace and stability, seeking for an opportunity in which a US-backed political front can oust a government from power and seize control for itself.

In Thailand, Amnesty is doing precisely the latter. It has consistently used the cause of human rights advocacy to bolster supporters of ousted ex-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, his sister, ousted ex-Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, their collective Pheu Thai Party (PTP) and their ultra-violent street front, the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD or "red shirts").

In 2010, Shinawatra would deploy 300 heavily armed terrorists into the streets to confront Thai riot control troops, killing 7 on the first night of violence.

Over the next several weeks gunfights between the terrorists and Thai soldiers would claim nearly 100 lives and culminate in an act of citywide arson carried out by Shinawatra's "red shirts" incurring billions of baht in property damage.

As Shinawatra intentionally triggered the mayhem, hoping that between the shocking violence and the deceitful Western media coverage the government would be forced to step down,  Amnesty was there, assisting in creating this illusion, publishing a report titled, "Thai military must halt reckless use of lethal force."

In it, only passing mention is made of armed terrorists - attributing the claim to the government in an obvious attempt to discredit it. However, Amnesty's sister-organization Human Rights Watch, while also presenting events at the time in a similarly biased manner, would afterward eventually admit to the fact that there were indeed heavily armed terrorists present and that they began the violence, starting April 10, 2010.

In their report,"Descent into Chaos (.pdf)" it was admitted:
As the army attempted to move on the camp, they were confronted by well-armed men who fired M16 and AK-47 assault rifles at them, particularly at the Khok Wua intersection on Rajdamnoen Road. They also fired grenades from M79s and threw M67 hand grenades at the soldiers. News footage and videos taken by protesters and tourists show several soldiers lying unconscious and bleeding on the ground, as well as armed men operating with a high degree of coordination and military skills.
One can clearly see the essential role Amnesty played in covering up, not exposing real human rights abuses and even terrorism, while at the same time condemning the Thai government's use of force it was fully justified in using.

In 2013-2014 when large-scale protesters called for Shinawatra's sister to step down from power, these terrorists would appear again, attacking, maiming, and killing dozens of people. It was this violence and the unrepentant criminality of the Shinawatra government that eventually precipitated the 2014 coup.

Image: Just some of the vast quantities of weapons seized from militant cells across the country who were either already taking part in violence between 2013-2014 or were planning to do so. Amnesty has made a habit never to mention the violence that precipitated the coup, misleading readers into believing the coup was an unwarranted power grab rather than a response to a criminal government murdering its citizens with impunity.
Today, Amnesty continues this deceptive game - ceaselessly condemning the coup, never mentioning the violence, abuses, and criminality that precipitated it.

With a military-led interim government now in power attempting to mend the rifts and damage Shinawatra and his political machine did to Thailand, Shinawatra's supporters are attempting to once again incrementally move themselves back into the streets for another round of violence.

Amnesty, under the pretext of defending "free assembly" attempts to disrupt the government's efforts to prevent this from happening, decrying arrests of Shinawatra's political network of foreign-backed agitators as "violations of human rights," while portraying those being arrested as "pro-democracy activists."

An Impromptu Interview  

Image: Engaged in anti-government antics, Ben is incapable
of the impartiality required for genuine human rights advocacy.
He personally, and Amnesty as an organization, have repeatedly
abused their platform to pursue political-motivated agendas. 
ATN got an opportunity to communicate with Amnesty International employee Chatnarong "Ben" Muangwong via Twitter.

The following interview reveals Ben's attempts to portray Amnesty's activities as impartial and apolitical, while arranging various excuses as to why clearly biased behavior is being exhibited.

Ben, for his part, is clearly a political supporter of Thailand's current opposition, following exclusively opposition Twitter accounts, US government accounts, and the accounts of prominent Western media organizations and lobbyists.

He condemned the results of a recent democratic referendum that approved of the nation's new charter.

Clearly personally biased, he made a perfect addition to help participate in Amnesty's professionally biased activities.

The following interview has been edited for ease of reading, with some side-tangents removed, having originally taken place on Twitter.

The exchange began when ATN responded to a comment regarding Amnesty's recent and bizarre statement it released regarding the recent Pokemon Go craze:
ATN: Anything to avoid legitimate rights advocacy, like condemning grenade attacks. 
AMNESTY: Actually we do, a lot. [Amnesty would provide a link to a grenade attack in Afghanistan]. We welcome constructive criticism, but get your facts straight first. 
ATN: I was talking about the 2013-2014 terrorist attacks in Bangkok versus the PDRC [anti-Shinawatra protests]. Not surprised you haven't heard of them.  
Also the abuses of Thaksin Shinawatra's UDD "red shirts," including bigotry, violence, and intimidation.
Here is a perfect example of your hypocrisy and lies of omission. Is this defensible?  
AMNESTY: Too bad you haven;t heard of this: "Thailand: Investigate grenade attack on anti-government protesters." 
ATN: Do you have any [specifically] condemning Thaksin or Yingluck Shinawatra, the PTP, and the UDD who were responsible for the attack?  
You name names when UDD/NDM [New Democracy Movement - an university student version of Shinawatra's red shirts] etc. are arrested, but only call for "investigations" when [these] same groups commit murder and terrorism. How come you never mention any of the violence before the coup when condemning the army? To make the coup seem unreasonable?  
If you mentioned the murder and mayhem of Shinawatra and the red shirts, people would fully understand the need for the coup. But you leave it out. Why?  
AMNESTY: We simply had a limited capacity for Thailand at the time. Every human rights offender should be mentioned regardless. We are independent from any group of interests and run by millions of individuals worldwide. We're based on fact, not opinion. 
ATN: What about now? You still fail to mention the violence before the coup. You are biased beyond belief, using well-intentioned people's hard work to push a political agenda. The fact is, there was violence before the coup by the sitting government, and Amnesty consistently omits it from current reports.  
AMNESTY: You can say whatever. Our only agenda is human rights stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  
ATN: Why won't you explain your constant omission of violence leading to the coup and how current protesters supported the previous, violent government?  
AMNESTY: Because we have no business in politics. We protect and promote human rights regardless. 
ATN: You explain everything about politics, minus the violence that led to the coup. Why? Context is important, isn't it?  
You complain about the coup, referendum, everything political to support the opposition. But never mention the opposition's violence and criminality. Amnesty condemns specific governments like Assad, like the current Thai government. But not Yingluck's when people were dying?  
AMNESTY: If you follow closely without bias, you'd know we obviously mention the violation of human rights, not the coup nor referendum. 
ATN: "The Amnesty International has questioned the reliability of the Sunday referendum.." [From an article published by The Nation newspaper.] 
AMNESTY: This is the real statement. Reconsider your biased source, read more.  
ATN: Your own statement omits the violence these same opposition groups getting arrested had committed before the coup! Do you remember the grenades, the gunfire, the arson, death [brought by] the red shirts?  
And if that is what the opposition did, why do they have the right to disrupt the referendum and not be jailed?  
AMNESTY: It's called freedom of expression in article 19 of the UDHR. Everyone is entitled to that.  
ATN: Freedom of expression has limits. For example, you can't conspire openly to kill people, destroy property, or commit crimes. Yes? So supporters of Thaksin - a convicted criminal - coming into the streets to start violence again, is not their right.  
Worst of all you know who they are and what they will do if given the chance, but you still defend them. In fact, you help them hide their final objective behind human rights, knowing full well they plan to trample the rights of others. 
AMNESTY: You have to separate "peaceful assembly" which is everyone's right and "violent protest" which we never support. 
ATN: But groups you know support a criminal and terrorism should be allowed to do the former to provide cover for the latter?  
AMNESTY: Yes (you can't conspire openly to kill, destroy property, or commit crimes), and we never support any violence.  
ATN: But these groups you demand be allowed to take the streets have already done violence or support it. It's the same thing. And you know the 2010 bloodbath couldn't have happened if Thaksin didn't put his "peaceful" protesters there first. 
And you never mention any of this when you write your little statements. This is advocating rights? Or hiding behind them?  
AMNESTY: That's not relevant. We have no business in politics.  
ATN: It's not relevant that people are abusing free speech to set the stage for violence to harm others? And [again] your whole statement was aimed at undermining the credibility of the referendum. The whole thing. This is not political?  
AMNESTY: Before making further assumptions, please learn more about our impartiality.
ATN: You can repeat "impartial" all day and all night, but your statements are not impartial. And you know it. Just look at your referendum statement. You name [Prime Minister] Prayuth and the government, but regarding the 2014 grenade attacks, you never mention Yingluck or the UDD leaders. 
Show me a similar statement where you criticized Yingluck's brutal crackdown on PDRC protesters in 2013-2014. 
AMNESTY: You don't want to know anything about us because you have bias, wanting to discredit us and you don't even know it. We're done. 
When pressed about Amnesty International's repeated defense of US State Department-funded organization Prachatai, both Amnesty International Thailand's official account, and Ben through his personal account deflected the question quite literally for hours, refusing to even acknowledge Prachatai's foreign funding despite it being disclosed, once in 2011, on their own website.

Image: US Ambassador Kristie Kenney posing with the staff of US State Department-funded Prachatai. Amnesty repeatedly deceives the public regarding organizations like Prachatai, claiming they are "independent" while never mentioning their compromised nature as foreign-funded entities. 

The troubling nature of foreign funded organizations operating in countries posing as NGOs is rooted in the fact that any organization or institution only serves the interests of those supporting it.

Genuine NGOs supported by community donations and volunteers serve the community. Organizations like Amnesty funded and directed from abroad, serve those interests abroad.

Thailand doesn't need a foreign organization to "teach" Thai people about "human rights," especially in a manner as politically-motivated as Amnesty International's.

In many ways, the presence of Amnesty International on Thai soil is insulting, even at face value. But in reality, it is much worse when one considers the manner in which it is hiding a clearly defined foreign-driven political agenda behind the guise of human rights advocacy.

Thailand desperately needs to revise its laws regarding foreign-funded organizations while in tandem, creating a slew of genuine, locally supported NGOs to displace this corrosive influence from Thai society, once and for all.