Thailand’s ‘Red Shirts’ call for world court probe

Anti-govt Red Shirts want an ICC probe into govt`s crimes against humanity.

Last Updated: Jan 31, 2011, 21:50 PM IST

Bangkok: Thailand`s anti-government "Red
Shirts" have officially asked the International Criminal Court
to investigate possible crimes against humanity committed by
the government, their lawyer said on Monday.

Robert Amsterdam, a London-based representative for
the movement, filed the petition yesterday relating to deadly
street clashes in Bangkok during two months of protests last
year, he told a press conference via video link.

The application requested that ICC prosecutors "launch
a preliminary investigation relating to potential crimes
against humanity committed in Thailand in April and May,"
Amsterdam said from Tokyo.

During the red-clad demonstrations in the capital,
which peaked at 100,000 people calling for immediate
elections, clashes between protesters and the military left
more than 90 people dead.

Amsterdam cited in particular the alleged use of
snipers and the firing of live ammunition by the army during
the violence.

Although Thailand has not ratified the Rome Statute
that created the ICC, Amsterdam argued that Prime Minister
Abhisit Vejjajiva was in fact a citizen of Great Britain,
where he was born, and which is a signatory of the pact.

"I am a Thai citizen, not Montenegrin," Abhisit later
said, in a jibe at the Reds` hero and fugitive former premier
Thaksin Shinawatra, who has been given citizenship of
Montenegro.

Thaksin, who was ousted in a coup in 2006 and lives
abroad to escape a jail term for corruption, is also
represented by Amsterdam.

The Red Shirts first urged the ICC to investigate the
allegations in October, although the official complaint was
filed yesterday.

"We are appealing to international justice to put an
end to Thai impunity," said the acting chairwoman of the Red
Shirts, Thida Thavornseth.

"Our courts have failed to administer justice, and our
government has failed to investigate the murders of more than
80 peaceful protesters," she added.

After an army crackdown that ended the protests in
May, small bands of militant protesters set dozens of
buildings ablaze across Bangkok, including a glitzy shopping
mall in the upmarket commercial district.

An official Thai investigation into the deaths is
under way, but the opposition has denounced the probe as a
"whitewash".

The mostly poor and working class Red Shirts have
shown increasing strength in recent months, holding rallies in
Bangkok twice a month that have attracted tens of thousands of
supporters.

PTI