Saturday, January 11, 2014

Thailand: Wall Street's Emissary Speaks

January 11, 2014 (ATN) - After lurking in the shadows throughout Thailand's recent political crisis, Robert Amsterdam, the paid foreign lobbyist of the current unelected defacto dictator of Thailand, Thaksin Shinawatra, has entered a row in direct confrontation with Thailand's military. 

: Robert Amsterdam, corporate lobbyists, concurrently represents both deposed autocrat Thaksin Shinawatra and his street front “red shirts” also known as the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD). Here he attends one of several failed attempts to re-brand the red shirts after earning a reputation as violent street thugs. The so-called academic "Nitirat" group turned out to be nothing more than a poorly disguised indoor red shirt rally. 

In his recent paid-for thoughts on Thailand titled, "Keeping the Fear Alive – How the Thai Army Deals With Critics," Amsterdam claims: 
General Prayuth and the Thai Army’s furious response to my recent oped, Life Under A Coup, is typical of a mindset that refuses any notion of democratic accountability or civilian control. That he missed the glaring irony of denying involvement in Thailand’s civil governance whilst unilaterally threatening to bar a critic from the country adds to Prayuth’s image of operating beyond the reach of ordinary, legally sanctioned jurisdiction. It seems as though just speaking the truth to Thailand’s military elicits only threats and venom from them. By such methods – backed up with the constant menace of implied and actual violence – the Thai Army have sustained an atmosphere of fear and loathing in Thailand. 
This careful cultivation of fear – built, most recently, upon the corpses of unarmed Thai civilians who died during the 2010 Bangkok Massacre – has now reached such a level of intimidation that only a few voices remain who will confront the Thai Army’s malfeasance openly and directly.
Robert Amsterdam, however, is not merely a critic, nor is he Thaksin Shinawatra's lawyer, he is a paid lobbyist and professional agitator. He also concurrently represents Thaksin Shinawatra's "red shirts," officially known as the "United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship" (UDD), whose bigotry, violence and intimidation are legendary:
  • In 2009, in addition to large-scale street violence visited upon Bangkok which saw two shop keepers shot while trying to stop red shirts from looting their businesses, red shirts would violently disrupt an HIV/AIDS awareness march organized by homosexual & public health activists. "Out in Perth" reported in their article, "Chiang Mai Pride Shut Down by Protests as Police Watch On," that organizers were locked inside a building while red shirts began throwing rocks and yelling abuse through megaphones. Police looked on until organizers decided to call off the event. 
Amsterdam has openly and continuously been aiding and abetting an accused mass murderer and terrorist, convicted criminal, and fugitive from the law in Thailand, along with his violent street front, the UDD. While Robert Amsterdam is free to say or do as he pleases according to the laws of the nation in which he resides, he must also abide by the laws of countries he plans to travel to - including Thailand.

Should he aid and abet someone considered a fugitive, mass murderer and/or terrorist in his home country, he undoubtedly would end up indicted, charged, sentenced and imprisoned. Such behavior is deemed unacceptable in the West, and it is likewise unacceptable in Thailand. While Robert Amsterdam continuously exploits the 92 deaths of 2010's political violence in Bangkok, his client Thaksin Shinawatra has sent thousands of innocent people to their early graves. 

And even the violence in 2010, which Amsterdam portrays as the result of a brutal military crackdown, in reality was nothing of the sort. The first lives lost in 2010 were those of 7 soldiers, not protesters, cut down by grenades and a hail of sniper fire coordinated by heavily armed, professional mercenaries admittedly working on behalf of Thaksin Shinawatra's "red shirts." In reality, Amsterdam is not a champion of justice for these fallen protesters, but instead an accomplice in covering up premeditated violence designed to undermine both the Thai government at the time, and continuously undermine the Thai military to this day. 

Robert Amsterdam still refers to the 2010 violence as the "Bangkok Massacre." This despite the fact that his own clients, the UDD, have already openly and repeatedly admitted the role of professional, heavily armed mercenaries during the conflict. Former UDD international spokesman and now national security adviser under Thaksin's current regime, Sean Boonpracong, would admit in a Reuters interview that indeed the militants seen operating on the first day of bloodshed were there on behalf of the UDD. In Reuters' article, "Red means stop, and anger, in vibrant Thai protest," it was reported: 
"The red shirts' international spokesman, Sean Boonpracong, told Reuters elements of the army are with their movement. They are known as "watermelons" -- green on the outside but red in the middle -- and they include the shadowy, black-clad men with military weapons that were seen at the April 10th crackdown. 
"They are a secret unit within the army that disagrees with what's going on. Without them, the black clad men, there would have been a whole lot more deaths and injuries," he said.
The suspected leader of these militants, renegade general Khattiya Sawasdipol, known as "Seh Daeng," further corroborated that the opposition was in fact armed by admitting to commanding 300 armed men trained for ''close encounters'' and carrying M79 grenade launchers, before withdrawing his comment in later interviews. 

Descent into Chaos (.pdf)
Page 62 of Human Rights Watch's "Descent into Chaos (.pdf)" report would provide a much more precise picture of just what scale of violence Thaksin Shinawatra's militants were operating on:
"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."
Clearly, the protesters, portrayed by the Robert Amsterdam  as being unarmed, were cover for a much more insidious force, heavily armed with military-grade weapons who in fact, drew first blood on April 10, 2010, killing 7 soldiers and dozens of bystanders in the deadly crossfire that ensued. Evidence also suggests that opposition snipers purposefully targeted their own protesters to escalate the conflict further.

Thaksin Shinawatra and his Western backers, capable of this level of violence and the audacity to twist their death and destruction around onto the Thai military is not only dishonest, it is dangerous. Thaksin Shinawatra while in office committed an unprecedented array of human rights abuses which include: 

  • In 2004, he oversaw the killing of 85 protesters in a single day during his mishandled, heavy-handed policy in the country's troubled deep south. The atrocity is now referred to as the "Tak Bai incident." 
  • Throughout his administration he was notorious for intimidating the press, and crushing dissent. According to  Amnesty International, 18 human rights defenders were either assassinated or disappeared during his first term in office. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) claimed in its report, "Attacks on the Press 2004: Thailand" that the regime was guilty of financial interference, legal intimidation, and coercion of the press. 
Thaksin Shinawatra is not a political refugee or a corrupt politician who has been unfairly persecuted - he is a dangerous despot who has already committed mass murder and terrorism in tandem with an immense propaganda campaign organized by an army of foreign lobbyists backed by Western corporate-financier interests. The Thai military's job, first and foremost is to protect the Kingdom of Thailand against all enemies foreign and domestic - Thaksin Shinawatra and his foreign backers represent a dangerous combination of both. 

Robert Amsterdam is More Than Just a Lobbyist, He is an Emissary of Wall Street 

Readers might be interested to know that Robert Amsterdam has represented another infamous billionaire, convicted and imprisoned criminal, Russia's Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Just like with Thaksin Shinawatra, Amsterdam and other nefarious corporate-fianncier interests across America and England's political landscape attempted to build Khodorkovsky into a "people's billionaire." 

However, just like Thaksin, Khodorkovsky was anything but. The immense suffering of the Russian people after the initial collapse of the Soviety Union was compounded by lawless oligarchs like Khodorkovsky. But why would the West pick people like Khodorkovsky and Thaksin to back? Why is Robert Amsterdam and other corporate lobbyists so interested in their cases? 

Both were willing proxies of Wall Street and London - both willing to undermine, destroy, and sell to the West the broken pieces of their respective nations. Khodorkovsky's complicity with marauding Western multinationals is well documented elsewhere. Thaksin Shinawatra's include: 
Robert Amsterdam is not just trying to make money off of Thaksin's desperate attempts to claw his way back into power. Amsterdam and his lobbying firm represents the collective interests of Wall Street and London as well as their aspirations to dismantle Thailand's sovereignty and open up its markets, people and resources to full scale, unhinged exploitation. 

Amsterdam's Amsterdam & Partners being listed as a corporate member of the British think-tank, Chatham House, says a lot about the entwined and conflicting interests involved in his representation of Thailand's Thaksin Shinawatra.  Chatham House and other "think-tanks" like it, also constituted a united corporate-government front that sought to despoil Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Iran. Considering the hardships these nations have faced and are still facing to this day after men like Robert Amsterdam and their proxies showed up at their door - it is not only understandable why the Thai military may have lashed out at Robert Amsterdam and what he represents, but prudent and instrumental to Thailand's future survival as well.