Red Protesters Call For NHRC Chairwoman To Resign

(14 August) Redshirts converged at the office of the National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) today to voice their displeasure at the report about the 2010 political unrest released by the agency, which has been criticised for its lack of emphasis on the atrocities committed by the military during the crackdown.

Published online last week, it took only several hours before some academics and Redshirts activists denounced the report, calling it full of bias and double standard.

Much of the criticism is directed at Ms. Amara Pongsapitch, the Chairman of the NHRC, charging that she failed to protect the human rights of the citizens. Her critics noted her reluctance to hold the military accountable for their roles in 2010, either in her reports or her public appearances.

Mr. Wutthipong Kotchathammmakun (aka. Ko Tee), a leader of the National United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) in Pathumthani Province, and Mr. Pongpisit Kongsena, a representative of another Redshirts group, led the protests at the NHRC today to repeat such allegation against Ms. Amara.

Some Redshirts at the protest claimed that the report is an instrument to whitewash then-Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his deputy at the time, Mr. Suthep Thuegsuban, from the atrocities that took place after the pair authorised the military crackdown against the Redshirts protest which left nearly 100 people dead, mostly civilians.

Both Mr. Abhisit and Mr. Suthep are facing murder charges for their role in the 2010 crackdown.

Mr. Pongpisit said that the works of the NHRC, particularly their recent report, had misled the people and distorted the truth. He also cited opinions of a number of academics who said that the NHRC avoided mentioning the deaths of Redshirts protesters and often defended the authorities action in its report.

He told our correspondent that the role of the NHRC is to protect people’s human rights to be free from government violation. "However, the NHRC proved they did not stand with the people," Mr. Pongpisit said.

In a sarcastic gesture, the protesters also brought applications for the membership of the Democrat Party for the committee to sign. "We believe that the committee would contribute more to the society if they just worked for the Democrat Party," one protester said.

At 10.50, Mr. Khanchai Kongsanae, the deputy secretary of the NHRC emerged and met with the protesters to receive the complaint letter the Redshirts wrote for the Committee. He told the protesters he would bring up the issue with other members of NHRC.

Leaders of the protests said they will give the committee 15 days to consider their resignation, and if the committee refuses, they would proceed with further action. 

However, the organisers of the protests added that they would consider government’s action before they proceed, as the government is currently working to create peace in the society.

After more speeches denouncing the NHRC were made, the protest peacefully dispersed at around 11.00.