Philippine-based regional solidarity organization the Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID) today denounced the Thailand International Cooperation Agency’s (TICA) for reportedly providing training to Myanmar junta representatives on 13 September 2023.
IID said that the event shows blatant disregard for the junta’s human rights abuses of the peoples of Myanmar, and the Thai government’s indifference towards the welfare of Burma and the will of Thai citizens to pursue democracy and justice.
Gus Miclat, IID’s Executive Director said, “This is unacceptable. Instead of being an accomplice of the illegal junta of Myanmar, we challenge the Thai government to stand with the suffering peoples of Myanmar. This is tantamount to providing ammunition to the junta to further legitimize itself.”
Reports revealed that TICA, an agency under Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, provided junta representatives the capacity building for ‘sufficiency economy philosophy,’ a prison rehabilitation policy practiced by the Thai Bureau of Corrections supposedly preparing prisoners for an honest profession after their release from prison.
Miclat added, “We express grave concern on how such philosophy will be employed by the illegitimate junta on its political prisoners, including advocates of democracy and the right to self-determination and ethnic group leaders resisting. A correctional program enforced upon the unjustly imprisoned is a perversion of the essence of justice. With Myanmar having a record high number of political prisoners since the attempted coup two years ago, this collaboration is quite ridiculous.”
Miclat explained, “Such prison philosophy may also be used to conceal the junta’s widespread committal of atrocity crimes against the peoples of Myanmar, including airstrikes on civilian communities, land-grabbing, ethnic-based killings and rape, and abductions, torture and unlawful imprisonment of activists, civilians and government critics.”
Various Burmese human rights groups expressed further concern that TICA’s collaboration with the junta also involved training them in public speaking and writing.
The IID executive director stressed, “We question what triggers the Thai government to maintain its partnership with the junta despite clamor by the international community for a return to peace and democracy. Though we acknowledge that the Thai government is instrumental in hosting communities of refugees displaced by the conflict in Myanmar, we hope to see the Thai government’s sincerity by asking it to stop fueling the source of the conflict–the abuses and power-mongering of the illegitimate military junta.”
Miclat emphasized, “Unfortunately, this collaboration will just embolden the junta’s capacity for propaganda and disinformation and will strengthen the junta’s subjugation efforts that will be counter-productive to the peoples’ desire for freedom and inclusive democracy. Collaborating with the junta at this critical juncture will erode trust, divide societies, and develop authoritarian mechanisms undermining democratic values.”
‘BIRDS OF THE SAME FEATHER’
IID recommends that the Thai government heed the call of the Thai people, whose yearning for democracy grows each day, reflected in the seats won by the pro-democracy Move Forward Party (MFP) in the Thai parliament’s most recent election. This progress was unfortunately diminished as other parties contested Pita Limjaroenrat’s (then MFP’s leader) bid for the Prime Minister post—a process cut completely when the Thai Constitutional Court prevented the party leader’s re-nomination.
Miclat asserted, “The country’s foreign policy should reflect the will of the Thai people, who share the people of Myanmar’s dream of inclusive and people-centered democracy and restrained military influence in politics. It seems that ASEAN is becoming a hub to governments with creeping authoritarian tendencies which is a complete paradox to the regional bloc’s vision of building a sharing and caring society of ASEAN peoples.”
IID said that it will continue its support of trans-local solidarity initiatives, bringing together communities from the Southeast Asian region in demanding accountability in various governments towards full respect, promotion and protection of human rights and democracy. ###
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