Peacemakers Trust posts news, reports or announcements of interest to people studying or working in the field of dispute resolution, conflict transformation and peacebuilding. Inclusion of an item on the media watch blog does not imply endorsement or agreement of Peacemakers Trust with views expressed by authors of posted items.
An independent United Nations expert today sounded the alarm on the deteriorating human rights situation in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, adding that the evacuation of aid workers following recent attacks on the humanitarian community would have severe consequences for life-saving work in the area.
“Recent developments in Rakhine state are the latest in a long history of discrimination and persecution against the Rohingya community which could amount to crimes against humanity,” said the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar, Tomás Ojea Quintana.
BANGKOK – A group of Myanmar activists, including former political prisoners, are launching a campaign on Friday to tackle the ‘hate speech’ against Muslims that has engulfed social media and spread into Burmese society.
Panzagar, literally “flower speech”, is a movement set up by Nay Phone Latt, a blogger and executive director of Myanmar ICT For Development Organization (MIDO) who spent nearly four years in jail for writing about the monks’ protests in 2007 that ended in a bloody crackdown.
Since 2005, Thailand has been a divided country, witnessing resurgent waves of political pandemonium. The latest resurrection of such acrimony surfaced in November 2013, when once again, the country began to suffer mass demonstrations and it appeared the military might soon stage a coup. Of course, all of these pluralistic activities took place under a monarchy that seems to stand above politics.
The Rise of Thailand’s Juristocracy
Perhaps a less visible trend, which has grown over the last decade, has been the rise of Thailand’s judiciary. Indeed, Thailand today possesses a weakly-developed democracy with a strong, monarchically-endowed juristocracy that is undergirded by the armed forces. An embedded democracy possesses elections, political rights, civil liberties, and checks and balances as well as effective control over the military.
In such democracies, courts represent the rule of law and the ability of civilians to legally redress grievances. A juristocracy, on the other hand, comes to exist in a country where the judiciary achieves near or total supremacy over other political actors in a country. In Thailand, contemporary courts exert great power and are generally the tool of senior arch-royalists. This same judiciary is the final interpreter of the law. As such, it has been used to delegitimize recalcitrant political foes.
Filed under: Thailand — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 21:28 PDT
26 March 2014
By David Streckfuss
The political situation in Thailand is slowly but surely ratcheting up to something akin to a civil war. Civil wars are by nature bloody affairs that bring out the worst in everyone, let loose the extremists on all sides, and have no real heroes.
To avoid civil war, there are a few possibilities. All, unfortunately, are fraught with risk. The first is to proceed as constitutionally as possible.
“What can we do, brother? There are too many. We can’t kill them all.”
He said it matter-of-factly—a former brigadier and diplomat from my native country, Myanmar, about Rohingya Muslims.
We were in the spacious ambassadorial office at Myanmar Embassy in an ASEAN country when this “brotherly” conversation took place. I am familiar with Myanmar’s racist nationalist narrative. I have also worked with the country’s military intelligence services in pushing for the gradual re-engagement between the West and our country, then an international pariah. Apparently, knowledge of my background made the soldier feel so at ease that he could make such a hateful call in a friendly conversation on official premises in total candor: Islamophobia normalized in the highest ranks of the bureaucracy and military in Myanmar.
"The opposition CNRP must focus on taking principled stances ... "
By Virak Ou
The past seven months in Cambodia can only be described as a roller-coaster ride… Cambodian citizens have repeatedly taken to the streets and public squares to demand reform…
Demands for change are now coming from all corners of society: victims of land grabs, who have been fighting a losing battle to protect their homes; garment-factory workers, who want a living wage; farmers, who remain mired in poverty; and civil society groups, which have been frustrated at a lack of real progress on the myriad of issues they work on. The increasing dissatisfaction and expressions for change since Rainsy’s return in early July have led many Cambodians to ask, will our country see a “spring” like the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and elsewhere in North Africa and the Middle East?
Late Tuesday night Cambodia wrapped up a review of its human rights record by assuring the United Nations and member states that it was taking pains to improve its rights record and maintain peace amid ongoing political turmoil.
“I promise you that we will make our efforts on human rights in Cambodia, develop progress and improve… even though we find our challenges, even though we just came from the civil war, we will do our best to be in line with your recommendations,” Mak Sambath, deputy chair of the government’s Human Rights Committee, told scores of delegates who had gathered for the Univeral Periodic Review which is held once every four and a half years.
Just hours after Sambath concluded his remarks in Geneva, dozens of riot police and district security guards in Phnom Penh stalked a small group of activists around town. Their offence was that they were going to embassies and UN offices to drop off a petition calling for the release of 23 activists and protesters believed to have been wrongfully imprisoned.
In spite of Sambath’s pledges to the contrary, Cambodia has shown little interest in aligning its rights record with international standards. The past month has seen a startling backslide on human rights and the worst government sanctioned violence in 15 years.
This colloquium seeks to bring together scholars and practitioners to examine the impediments to peace and offer a realistic appraisal of the conflict in southern Thailand in light of the tentative talks underway.
Deadline for abstracts/proposals: 28th February 2014
Cambodia’s escalating post-election and labour tensions have so far led to two tragic shooting deaths and numerous injuries. Peaceful protests have escalated into rock-throwing and scuffling with police who suppress demonstrations with teargas, water cannons, batons, rubber bullets and even live ammunition. While excessive use of force and firearms by police must be condemned, demonstrators must learn three compelling reasons for remaining peaceful even in the face of provocation.
Discussions about what theMindanao peace process is and how the role of women has changed in peacemaking and what the unintended consequences are of being involved. We talk about how can the role of women can prosper and not be inhibited by the cultural requirements of faith.
Miriam Coronel Ferrer, Chairperson, GPH Peace Negotiating Panel for Talks with the MILF, Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), Philippines
Emma Leslie, Director, Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPCS), Cambodia
Thailand’s political conflict has become intractable, dragging on for at least seven years with no end in sight. Analysts employ different frameworks to explain what drives the conflict. This is based on how they approach the situation, what they emphasize and the options they consider for conflict resolution. My essay is an attempt to make explicit several conflict frameworks so we understand the different narratives being communicated.
… another twist in the Thai political story played out in a factionalised media landscape. Talking us through the story this week is Sunai Pasuk, from Human Rights Watch, Al Jazeera correspondent Wayne Hay and two Thai journalists close to the story, Pirongrong Ramasooka and Noppatjak Attanon.
Named as one of the world’s 100 most influential people in 2007 by Time magazine, Youk Chhang turned the misfortune and suffering of his childhood under the Khmer Rouge into a documentation centre detailing genocide under the Pol Pot regime which took around 2 million lives.
The Documentation Centre of Cambodia houses over 500,000 documents and 6,000 photographs, making it the largest archive of its kind. According to Chhang, it was an important source of evidence contributing to the establishment of the Cambodia Tribunal in 1997.
During his brief visit to Bangkok, Prachatai talked to Youk Chhang, Director of the Documentation Centre of Cambodia and a genocide survivor about reconciliation, forgiveness and the future of Cambodia.
Inside Story, with presenter Kamahl Santamaria, discusses with guests: Sourav Roy, an Asian affairs political analyst and columnist for the Huffington Post; Chheang Vannarith, a senior fellow at the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace; and Rupert Abbott, an Asia researcher for Amnesty International.
By opheng Cheang and Justine Drennan, Associated Press
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – Leaders of Cambodia’s ruling and opposition parties found rare common ground Monday in a meeting held a day after political violence left a man dead, but remained deadlocked over an opposition demand for an independent probe of election irregularities.
In scattered clashes Sunday, security forces used water cannons, smoke grenades and live ammunition, rights groups said, killing one person and wounding at least 10 over the course of the day. Thousands remained at the main protest site Monday, many having camped out overnight in defiance of orders from the government.
Greater openness is a work in progress in the face of corruption, division and historical legacies.
By Michael Vatikiotis
Southeast Asia is no stranger to the challenges of unity and reconciliation. The early phases of nation-building were characterized by struggle and upheaval stemming from the reluctance of established conservative elites to share power. Democratic forms of government were deemed unsuited to societies that were organized along hierarchical lines and dominated by narrow interest groups.
By the mid-1970s, however, popular protest movements had begun to exert pressure on conservative elites, partly by harnessing popular support but also by threatening a communist-led takeover. The resulting compromise was a system of partially open, semi-democratic systems that generally promoted a broader base of wealth and prosperity but still limited freedom.
By the mid-1990s, this compromise was coming undone…
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — He screamed, “This is so unjust!” But Yann Rith, a 25-year-old resident of Phnom Penh, did not struggle against the group of men who carried him away.
A supporter of Cambodia’s political opposition, Mr. Yann Rith was taking part this week in a practice protest, a role-playing exercise intended to show other supporters how to submit peacefully if arrested by the riot police.
“We will be nonviolent!” Mr. Yann Rith declared, as he patted down his rumpled, button-down shirt.