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HRW urges Thailand to investigate crimes committed by government officials, protesters

Thailand's government should investigate crimes allegedly committed by both government officials and protesters during 2010's violent political protests [JURIST news archive], according to a report [text, PDF] released Monday by Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website]. The report details the violence [press release] that resulted from the "red shirt" [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] pro-democracy movement and specifically from clashes between security forces and anti-government protesters acting under the direction of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) [party website]. According to investigations by HRW, the high death toll and injuries were the consequences of excessive and unnecessary lethal force by the government as well as deliberate attacks, aimed at inciting more violence, by armed forces of the UDD. The information within the report is based on 94 interviews with victims, witnesses and government officials, among others. One witness account described such behavior:

[M]edic volunteers who were tending the wounded inside the temple compound were amongst those killed. These included a nurse who was shot while tending to a wounded man near the nursing station at the front of the temple, and 22-year-old man who was fatally shot in the head and body inside the medical tent after providing first aid to the nurse.
Based on these findings, HRW made a number of key recommendations to the government of Thailand within the report, including the immediate initiation of an "impartial, transparent, and independent inquiry into the violence" to "ensure all perpetrators of serious human rights abuses are brought to justice" as well as providing "prompt, fair and adequate compensation for the victims ... of human rights violations."

HRW is not the only voice calling for more information. In January, the "red shirt" movement petitioned [JURIST report] the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] to launch a preliminary investigation into whether the government committed crimes against humanity during the Bangkok protests. The application for petition cites specific evidence developing a substantial basis to show that international crimes of murder, imprisonment and other severe deprivation of physical liberty, other inhumane acts, and persecution were committed in conjunction with the suppression of red shirt protests. Evidence obtained from multiple active-duty officers of the Royal Thai Army recounts the planning and execution of the military response to the red shirts. The application also includes reports from Thai law enforcement officials knowledgeable of the official investigation conducted by the Thai Department of Special Investigations (DSI) into the killings of protesters.

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