Thailand Politics

Thai soldiers patrol after the clean up operation at the pro-government demonstration site on the outskirts of Bangkok, Thailand, Friday, May 23, 2014. Pic: AP

From the Web site of the Australian Foreign Minister:

The Australian Government continues to have grave concerns about the actions of the military in Thailand.

Since the military seized control of government functions on 22 May, the Government has registered our concerns to authorities in Bangkok through Australia’s Ambassador to Thailand and the Thai Embassy in Canberra.

In line with our concerns, Australia is reducing our engagement with the Thai military and will lower the level of our interaction with the Thai military leadership.

Australia has postponed three activities planned for coming weeks in Thailand: a military operations law training course for Thai military officers; a reconnaissance visit for a counter improvised explosive device training exercise; and a reconnaissance visit for a counter terrorism training exercise. We will continue to review defence and other bilateral activities.

The Australian Government has also put in place a mechanism to prevent the leaders of the coup from travelling to Australia.

The Australian Government continues to call on the military to set a pathway for a return to democracy and the rule of law as soon as possible, to refrain from arbitrary detentions, to release those detained for political reasons and to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms.

As blogged yesterday on the FT editorial:

Most western countries have issued relatively strong statements regarding the coup (in comparison with 2006) and the US has suspended military aid for Thailand (and some trips). Perhaps, we may get some symbolic sanctions such as against Prayuth and some senior military officials OR sanctions in regards to Thailand’s human trafficking problems with the coup being the final political straw.

BP: Am not surprised that a government has individually targeted members of the military junta and essentially put them on an immigration blacklist. It is more a symbolic gesture as it is unlikely the junta members will travel to Australia anyway, but it is a clear statement by the Australian government. The only surprise really is that it is Australia that is first out of the blocks. It is also an upping of the ante from their previous statement on May 23 that they are gravely concerned by the military coup. This upping of the ante will raise questions about  the response from other countries, particularly for European and the other English-speaking countries, given Australia has acted. Will these countries follow suit? Will the Thais retaliate?