Thailand: Junta’s confusing remarks on amnesty
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Thailand: Junta’s confusing remarks on amnesty

After Abhisit made a statement earlier that national reform must not include amnesty for political offenders, as reported by the Bangkok Post:

The NCPO’s move to set up “reconciliation for reform centres” to end colour-coded divisions and foster unity among people must not be used to come to compromises or reach bargains, Mr Abhisit said Thursday.

He said previous reconciliation bids were merely disguised attempts to issue an amnesty to political offenders.

The NCPO must ensure all sides of the conflict comply with the law and take responsibility, accept the consequences of their actions and be willing to face legal proceedings.

The Bangkok Post has the junta response:

The National Council for Peace and Order’s plans for national reconciliation do not include amnesty for people involved in the political conflict who broke the law, a junta spokesman said on Friday.

Col Banphot Phunphian, spokesman for the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc), said on Friday that people should not expect amnesty or exemption for any offence. Most had occurred before the May 22 coup and would be handled according to the law in the normal justice system.

Army Deputy Chief of Staff told the foreign press as reported by Global Post:

All the while, the junta is taking pains to portray its takeover as a sacrifice rather than a power grab. “I’m telling you: we didn’t have a choice,” said Lt. Gen. Chatchalerm Chalermsukh, the army’s deputy chief of staff. Without the coup, “Bangkok would have become like Libya. Or Syria. We couldn’t let that happen.”

We did this despite great risk,” Lt. Gen. Chatchalerm said. “If we’d failed, we’d be imprisoned … and if you think deeply, it’s a sacrifice. Treason charges are punishable by death.

Section 37 of the 2006 Constitution which stated:

All acts done by the Chairman of the Council for Democratic Reform which related to the seizure and control of the State administrative power on 19th September B.E. 2549 as well as any act done by persons involved in such seizure or of persons being assigned by the Chairman of the Council for Democratic Reform or of persons being commanded by the Chairman of the Council for Democratic Reform which done for such above act. All these acts, whether done for the enforcement in legislative, executive or judicial force as well as the punishment and other acts on administration of the State affairs whether done as principals, supporters, instigators or persons being commanded to do so and whether done on such date or prior to such date or after such date shall be absolutely exempted from any wrongdoing, responsibility and liabilities.

BP: This is effectively an amnesty. BP is a little unsure if this all matches up. Is the military saying they will not grant themselves an amnesty and will face treason and other charges? Or are they saying the coup was legal? Or are they saying the military is different and so their statement that people should not expect amnesty or exemption for any offence does not apply to them? If we see a similar section to Section 37 in any interim Constitution, how will the PDRC and Abhisit respond? (ok, that last question is facetious…)….