Saturday, December 2, 2006

Crimes Against Humanity: When the Fates of Vietnamese Boat Refugees were in Thai Hands

I recently read Jon Swain's River of Time. It is a fantastic account of the war correspondent's adventures in Indochina focusing on the Vietnam war and the rise of the Khmer Rouge. One of the saddest chapters in the whole book was his account of the rape, robbery, and murder of Vietnamese refugees by Thai fishermen during the late 1980s.

In a recent posting, Bangkok Pundit reports that Thai government ministers may have been culpable in those deaths.

Some background from the Pundit's report: this week, former Thai senator Kraisak called for Thailand to ratify the International Criminal Court so charges of "crimes against humanity" might be brought against deposed PM Thaksin in relation to his prosecution of the war on drugs (alleged to have involved summary executions of suspected drug criminals by the police).

Bangkok Pundit asks: "I wonder what Kraisak thinks about Prem's government from 1980-1988, given his Dad was a Deputy Prime Minister at the time and he was Daddy's adviser for a period. Let's have a look at one thing that happened when Prem was PM." Bangkok Pundit has posted exerpts from an article detailing the horendous humanitarian consequences of directives issued by the Thai government of the day.

Many observers of Thailand say General Prem was a principle figure behind the recent coup. Back when General Prem was prime minister, his government's policies towards the Vientnamese boat people represented a low point in the history of modern Thailand. The leaders of the day should be held to account for their decisions.

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