Paradoxical Reactions Greet 2010 Victims Families' Amnesty Bill

Ms. Payao Akhard (center) leading her group on a march to the Government House in June 2013

(18 July) The draft of
amnesty bill proposed by families of some victims killed during the 2010 military crackdown in
Bangkok has been met with rather strange reactions: the opposition party welcomed it while
high-profile Redshirts figures alleged that the draft would benefit the military.

Previously,
Families of April-May 2010 Martyrs announced that they had come with their version of the amnesty
bill which would grant amnesty to all protesters involved in the 2010 Redshirts? mass protests –
except those that had been charged with serious crimes such as committing arson attacks on state and
private properties.

The bill would also exempt leaders of the Redshirts, the authorities at
the time, and members of the security forces ?who employed unnecessary violence? from legal
immunity.

Currently, only former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his former Deputy Prime
Minister are facing charges of murders and attempted murders related to the crackdown; the military
personnel have been left virtually untouched.

The group was led mainly by Ms. Payao Akhard
and Mr. Pansak Srithep. They each lost a child in the crackdown.

Their draft is the 5th
version of amnesty bill on the table so far. It also differs greatly from the version proposed by
former Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung and supported by many prominent Redshirts, which
calls for amnesty to everyone involved in the crackdown.

Mr. Weng Tojirakarn, an MP of the
ruling Pheu Thai Party and one of the leaders in 2010 mass protests, said the draft written by the
victims? families have glaring problem because it does not grant amnesty to Redshirts protesters
currently detained and charged with arson attacks and serious crimes – which he said were falsified
charges put forth by the former government to discredit the Redshirts.

He noted that
Redshirts leaders would still have to face terrorism charge under this version of amnesty
bill.

In an article published on his website, Mr. Weng also voiced his concern that the
military and former PM Abhisit could simply claim they did not act with unnecessary violence as
they had to sue deadly force to counter with armed elements of the protesters – the so-called
Blackshirts – and therefore escape from legal prosecution under the proposed bill.

The
Redshirts leadership has always insisted that the protesters were not associated with the
Blackshirts in any way.

Is this amnesty bill intended to help Abhisit … and the soldiers
who participated in the killing of the people, and simultaneously punish the Redshirts and their
leaders? Mr. Weng asked sarcastically.

Meanwhile, Mr. Vorachai Hema, a Pheu Thai MP who has
also proposed his own amnesty bill, said that the victims families? draft would slow down the
process to free Redshirts protesters currently detained or imprisoned, which should be the priority
of any amnesty bill.

The draft would create endless troubles, Mr. Vorachai was quoted as
saying.

Nevertheless, the controversial draft gains support from an unlikely source: the
opposition Democrat Party. Mr. Chawanon Intarakomalyasut, spokesman of the party, said the bill
proposed by Ms. Akhard and Mr. Pansak fits with his party′s stance as the bill would not give
immunity to protesters who committed violent and criminal acts.

In a press conference, Mr.
Chawanon urged the government to abandon all other versions of amnesty bill being debated and
proceed with the draft suggested by the 2010 victims? families.

However, in a curious mark,
Mr. Chawanon warned that his party will not support the bill if it includes amnesty for lese majeste
prisoners – those that have been found guilty for allegedly insulting the Royal
Family.