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Akha Blog Page 18

Loss of American Character
June 21, 2011
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article28431.htm
"There is nothing left of the American character. Only a people who have lost their soul could tolerate the evil that emanates from Washington."

A World Overwhelmed By Western Hypocrisy
By Paul Craig Roberts
June 29, 2011 "Information Clearing House" -- -- -- - Western institutions have become caricatures of hypocrisy.

The International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank are violating their charters in order to bail out French, German, and Dutch private banks. The IMF is only empowered to make balance of payments loans, but is lending to the Greek government for prohibited budgetary reasons in order that the Greek government can pay the banks. The ECB is prohibited from bailing out member country governments, but is doing so anyway in order that the banks can be paid. The German parliament approved the bailout, which violates provisions of the European Treaty and Germany's own Basic Law. The case is in the German Constitutional Court, a fact unreported in the US media.

US president George W. Bush appointed an immigrant, who is not impressed with the US Constitution and the separation of powers, to the Justice (sic) Department in order to get a ruling that the president has "unitary powers" that elevate him above statutory US law, treaties, and international law. According to this immigrant's legal decisions, the "unitary executive" can violate with impunity the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which prevents spying on Americans without warrants obtained from the FISA Court. The immigrant also ruled that Bush could violate with impunity the statutory US laws against torture as well as the Geneva Conventions. In other words, the fictional "unitary powers" make the president into a Caesar.

Constitutional protections, such as habeas corpus, which prohibit government from holding people indefinitely without presenting charges and evidence to a court, and which prohibit government from denying detained people due process of law and access to an attorney, were thrown out the window by the US Department of Justice (sic), and the federal courts went along with most of it.

As did Congress, "the people's representatives". Congress even enacted the Military Tribunals Commissions Act of 2006, signed by the White House Brownshirt on October 17.

This act allows anyone alleged to be an "unlawful enemy combatant" to be sentenced to death on the basis of secret and hearsay evidence not presented in the kangaroo military court placed out of reach of US federal courts. The crazed nazis in Congress who supported this total destruction of Anglo-American law masqueraded as "patriots in the war against terrorism." v The act designates anyone accused by the US, without evidence being presented, as being part of the Taliban, al-Qaeda, or "associated forces" to be an "unlawful enemy combatant," which strips the person of the protection of law. Not even George Orwell could have conceived of such a formulation.

The Taliban consists of indigenous Afghan peoples, who, prior to the US military intervention, were fighting to unify the country. The Taliban are Islamist, and the US government fears another Islamist government, like the one in Iran that was blowback from US intervention in Iran's internal affairs. The "freedom and democracy" Americans overthrew an elected Iranian leader and imposed a tyrant. American-Iranian relations have never recovered from the tyranny that Washington imposed on Iranians.

Washington is opposed to any government whose leaders cannot be purchased to perform as Washington's puppets. This is why George W. Bush's regime invaded Afghanistan, why Washington overthrew Saddam Hussein, and why Washington wants to overthrow Libya, Syria, and Iran.

America's First Black (or half white) President inherited the Afghan war, which has lasted longer than World War II with no victory in sight. Instead of keeping with his election promises and ending the fruitless war, Obama intensified it with a "surge,"

The war is now ten years old, and the Taliban control more of the country than does the US and its NATO puppets. Frustrated by their failure, the Americans and their NATO puppets increasingly murder women, children, village elders, Afghan police, and aid workers.

A video taken by a US helicopter gunship, leaked to Wikileaks and released, shows American forces, as if they were playing video games, slaughtering civilians, including camera men for a prominent news service, as they are walking down a peaceful street. A father with small children, who stopped to help the dying victims of American soldiers' fun and games, was also blown away, as were his children. The American voices on the video blame the children's demise on the father for bringing kids into a "war zone." It was no war zone, just a quiet city street with civilians walking along.

The video documents American crimes against humanity as powerfully as any evidence used against the Nazis in the aftermath of World War II at the Nuremberg Trials.

Perhaps the height of lawlessness was attained when the Obama regime announced that it had a list of American citizens who would be assassinated without due process of law.

One would think that if law any longer had any meaning in Western civilization, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, indeed, the entire Bush/Cheney regime, as well as Tony Blair and Bush's other co-conspirators, would be standing before the International Criminal Court.

Yet it is Gadaffi for whom the International Criminal Court has issued arrest warrants. Western powers are using the International Criminal Court, which is supposed to serve justice, for self-interested reasons that are unjust.

What is Gadaffi's crime? His crime is that he is attempting to prevent Libya from being overthrown by a US-supported, and perhaps organized, armed uprising in Eastern Libya that is being used to evict China from its oil investments in Eastern Libya.

Libya is the first armed revolt in the so-called "Arab Spring." Reports have made it clear that there is nothing "democratic" about the revolt. http://www.english.rfi.fr/print/95867?print=now

The West managed to push a "no-fly" resolution through its puppet organization, the United Nations. The resolution was limited to neutralizing Gadaffi's air force. However, Washington, and its French puppet, Sarkozy, quickly made an "expansive interpretation" of the UN resolution and turned it into authorization to become directly involved in the war.

Gadaffi has resisted the armed rebellion against the state of Libya, which is the normal response of a government to rebellion. The US would respond the same as would the UK and France. But by trying to prevent the overthrow of his country and his country from becoming another American puppet state, Gadaffi has been indicted. The International Criminal Court knows that it cannot indict the real perpetrators of crimes against humanity--Bush, Blair, Obama, and Sarkozy--but the court needs cases and accepts the victims that the West succeeds in demonizing.

In our post-Orwellian times, everyone who resists or even criticizes the US is a criminal. For example, Washington considers Julian Assange and Bradley Manning to be criminals, because they made information available that exposed crimes committed by the US government. Anyone who even disagrees with Washington, is considered to be a "threat," and Obama can have such "threats" assassinated or arrested as a "terrorist suspect" or as someone "providing aid and comfort to terrorists." American conservatives and liberals, who once supported the US Constitution, are all in favor of shredding the Constitution in the interest of being "safe from terrorists." They even accept such intrusions as porno-scans and sexual groping in order to be "safe" on air flights.

The collapse of law is across the board. The Supreme Court decided that it is "free speech" for America to be ruled by corporations, not by law and certainly not by the people. On June 27, the US Supreme Court advanced the fascist state that the "conservative" court is creating with the ruling that Arizona cannot publicly fund election candidates in order to level the playing field currently unbalanced by corporate money. The "conservative" US Supreme Court considers public funding of candidates to be unconstitutional, but not the "free speech" funding by business interests who purchase the government in order to rule the country. The US Supreme Court has become a corporate functionary and legitimizes rule by corporations. Mussolini called this rule, imposed on Americans by the US Supreme Court, fascism.

The Supreme Court also ruled on June 27 that California violated the US Constitution by banning the sale of violent video games to kids, despite evidence that the violent games trained the young to violent behavior. It is fine with the Supreme Court for soldiers, whose lives are on the line, to be prohibited under penalty of law from drinking beer before they are 21, but the idiot Court supports inculcating kids to be murderers, as long as it is in the interest of corporate profits, in the name of "free speech."

Amazing, isn't it, that a court so concerned with "free speech" has not protected American war protesters from unconstitutional searches and arrests, or protected protesters from being attacked by police or herded into fenced-in areas distant from the object of protest.

As the second decade of the 21st century opens, those who oppose US hegemony and the evil that emanates from Washington risk being declared to be "terrorists." If they are American citizens, they can be assassinated. If they are foreign leaders, their country can be invaded. When captured, they can be executed, like Saddam Hussein, or sent off to the ICC, like the hapless Serbs, who tried to defend their country from being dismantled by the Americans.

And the American sheeple think that they have "freedom and democracy."

Washington relies on fear to coverup its crimes. A majority of Americans now fear and hate Muslims, peoples about whom Americans know nothing but the racist propaganda which encourages Americans to believe that Muslims are hiding under their beds in order to murder them in their sleep.

The neoconservatives, of course, are the purveyors of fear. The more fearful the sheeple, the more they seek safety in the neocon police state and the more they overlook Washington's crimes of aggression against Muslims.

Safety uber alles. That has become the motto of a once free and independent American people, who once were admired but today are despised.

In America lawlessness is now complete. Women can have abortions, but if they have stillbirths, they are arrested for murder. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jun/24/america-pregnant-women-murder-charges

Americans are such a terrified and abused people that a 95-year old woman dying from leukemia traveling to a last reunion with family members was forced to remove her adult diaper in order to clear airport security. http://www.nwfdailynews.com/news/mother-41324-search-adult.html Only a population totally cowed would permit such abuses of human dignity.

In a June 27 interview on National Public Radio, Ban Ki-moon, Washington's South Korean puppet installed as the Secretary General of the United Nations, was unable to answer why the UN and the US tolerate the slaughter of unarmed civilians in Bahrain, but support the International Criminal Court's indictment of Gadaffi for defending Libya against armed rebellion. Gadaffi has killed far fewer people than the US, UK, or the Saudis in Bahrain. Indeed, NATO and the Americans have killed more Libyans than has Gadaffi. The difference is that the US has a naval base in Bahrain, but not in Libya.

There is nothing left of the American character. Only a people who have lost their soul could tolerate the evil that emanates from Washington.

Thai Story Website and a Short History of Thailand
June 21, 2011
From #Thai Story Website:
http://thaistoryblog.wordpress.com/
A very interesting document on current Thai history:
http://www.akha.org/upload/documents/thaistorypart1.pdf
Part two:
http://www.akha.org/upload/documents/thaistorypart2.pdf
There are going to be four parts.

Doi Chaang Coffee Company Vancouver, BC Canada
June 21, 2011
Doi Chaang Coffee Company based in Vancouver, BC Canada is now importing and roasting Akha mountain coffee from the village of Doi Chaang in Chiangrai Province of Thailand. We have known the Akha of Doi Chaang for many years and are happy to see this business connection bring their Akha coffee to the west coast.

To purchase Doi Chaang Coffee contact the company at the link below and place an order. Help promote the cause of the Akha people of Thailand.

John M Darch
Doi Chaang Coffee Company
o-604.689.3312
c-778.997.7135
jmdarch@doichaangcoffee.com
http://www.doichaangcoffee.com

Call Off the Global Drug War
June 17, 2011
By JIMMY CARTER
Published: June 16, 2011
NYTimes
Atlanta
In an extraordinary new initiative announced earlier this month, the Global Commission on Drug Policy has made some courageous and profoundly important recommendations in a report on how to bring more effective control over the illicit drug trade. The commission includes the former presidents or prime ministers of five countries, a former secretary general of the United Nations, human rights leaders, and business and government leaders, including Richard Branson, George P. Shultz and Paul A. Volcker.

The report describes the total failure of the present global antidrug effort, and in particular America's "war on drugs," which was declared 40 years ago today. It notes that the global consumption of opiates has increased 34.5 percent, cocaine 27 percent and cannabis 8.5 percent from 1998 to 2008. Its primary recommendations are to substitute treatment for imprisonment for people who use drugs but do no harm to others, and to concentrate more coordinated international effort on combating violent criminal organizations rather than nonviolent, low-level offenders.

These recommendations are compatible with United States drug policy from three decades ago. In a message to Congress in 1977, I said the country should decriminalize the possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, with a full program of treatment for addicts. I also cautioned against filling our prisons with young people who were no threat to society, and summarized by saying: "Penalties against possession of a drug should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself."

These ideas were widely accepted at the time. But in the 1980s President Ronald Reagan and Congress began to shift from balanced drug policies, including the treatment and rehabilitation of addicts, toward futile efforts to control drug imports from foreign countries.

This approach entailed an enormous expenditure of resources and the dependence on police and military forces to reduce the foreign cultivation of marijuana, coca and opium poppy and the production of cocaine and heroin. One result has been a terrible escalation in drug-related violence, corruption and gross violations of human rights in a growing number of Latin American countries.

The commission's facts and arguments are persuasive. It recommends that governments be encouraged to experiment "with models of legal regulation of drugs ... that are designed to undermine the power of organized crime and safeguard the health and security of their citizens." For effective examples, they can look to policies that have shown promising results in Europe, Australia and other places.

But they probably won't turn to the United States for advice. Drug policies here are more punitive and counterproductive than in other democracies, and have brought about an explosion in prison populations. At the end of 1980, just before I left office, 500,000 people were incarcerated in America; at the end of 2009 the number was nearly 2.3 million. There are 743 people in prison for every 100,000 Americans, a higher portion than in any other country and seven times as great as in Europe. Some 7.2 million people are either in prison or on probation or parole - more than 3 percent of all American adults!

Some of this increase has been caused by mandatory minimum sentencing and "three strikes you're out" laws. But about three-quarters of new admissions to state prisons are for nonviolent crimes. And the single greatest cause of prison population growth has been the war on drugs, with the number of people incarcerated for nonviolent drug offenses increasing more than twelvefold since 1980.

Not only has this excessive punishment destroyed the lives of millions of young people and their families (disproportionately minorities), but it is wreaking havoc on state and local budgets. Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger pointed out that, in 1980, 10 percent of his state's budget went to higher education and 3 percent to prisons; in 2010, almost 11 percent went to prisons and only 7.5 percent to higher education.

Maybe the increased tax burden on wealthy citizens necessary to pay for the war on drugs will help to bring about a reform of America's drug policies. At least the recommendations of the Global Commission will give some cover to political leaders who wish to do what is right.

A few years ago I worked side by side for four months with a group of prison inmates, who were learning the building trade, to renovate some public buildings in my hometown of Plains, Ga. They were intelligent and dedicated young men, each preparing for a productive life after the completion of his sentence. More than half of them were in prison for drug-related crimes, and would have been better off in college or trade school.

To help such men remain valuable members of society, and to make drug policies more humane and more effective, the American government should support and enact the reforms laid out by the Global Commission on Drug Policy.

Jimmy Carter, the 39th president, is the founder of the Carter Center and the winner of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize.

Documentary: UNJUST
June 3, 2011
A Documentary Film by Josefina Bergsten

Across three Asian countries, three women have stood together to fight for justice. Their husbands all lost their lives in 2004 due to the murderous intentions of state agents. In Thailand, Indonesia and Sri Lanka, these remarkable wives, mothers and activists fought against the impunity surrounding extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances and torture in their home countries.

UNJUST is a documentary film about Angkhana Neelapaijit (wife of disappeared Thai human rights defender Somchai Neelapaijit) Suciwati (wife of murdered Indonesian campaigner Munir) and Padma Perera (wife of tortured and murdered Sri Lankan citizen Gerard Perera) who share their struggle for answers across the three countries. The women's personal tragedies drive them on a long and at times, dangerous pursuit of accountability. Refusing to be silenced by threats to their lives and families, they have become leading human rights defenders in Asia.

Josefina Bergsten's 77 minute film helps the world to understand what it means to live in a country that does not have an adequately developed justice system to protect human rights.

UNJUST has been awarded a Special Jury Award at the "Movies That Matter Film Festival" in The Hague, A Human rights Press Award for Broadcast at the Foreign Correspondents Club Hong Kong and an Asian Human Rights Award for Creative Media.

Akha Prisoner Letter Project Update
June 2, 2011
Next time will be easier, but by tomorrow night 551 letters to prisoners in Thailand will be addressed, stuffed, sealed and ready for the stamps (a bit more to raise for that) and we have a system set up so that a batch of letters can be ready in one or two days and in the post.

Updated PRINTABLE Akha Prisoner Address List
May 30, 2011
I have updated all Akha prisoner lists. You will need to write to get a copy of the list. I parsed the names and added the prison address for each name, so that you can print the lists and cut them out and paste them on an envelope. The goal is to get a letter to these prisoners a couple times a year, once a quarter would be nice. There are 551 prisoners on the lists we have, some are other hilltribe. We still need lists for many of the other prisons in Thailand. There is one list dedicated to the prisons we don't have lists for. If you know a prison name we don't have, please send it to us. You may write these prisoners, we hope you will. If you get a reply or updated information please let us know so that we can update the lists. I am estimating that it will cost at least $600 to do a send once for these prisoners. But I will update that when I get closer to having the first send ready to go.
Akha Prison Letters Project Prisoner List pdf

THAILAND: Threats to freedom of expression endanger human rights
May 10, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 19, 2011
ALRC-CWS-17-01-2011
HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
Seventeenth session, Agenda Item 3, Interactive Dialogue with SR on Freedom of Expression
A written statement submitted by the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC), a non-governmental organisation with general consultative status

THAILAND: Threats to freedom of expression endanger human rights

Since the 19 September 2006 coup, the Asian Legal Resource Center has observed the growing constriction of freedom of expression in Thailand. Locating and silencing dissident speech perceived to be critical of the institution of the monarchy has become a significant focus of the work of a range of Thai state agencies, including the judiciary, the Royal Thai Army, the Department of Special Investigation (DSI), the Ministry of Interior and the Royal Thai Police; this work has extended to state support of citizen action groups whose purpose is to scrutinize the internet and public space for any perceived instances of lèse majesté. Article 112 of the Thai Criminal Code (the lèse majesté law) and the more recent Computer Crimes Act of 2007 have been used with increasing frequency to threaten, intimidate, and in some cases, arrest and prosecute a series of dissidents, journalists, and observers of politics. While the use of the law to repress speech has been growing since the 19 September 2006 coup, in the last twelve months, the Thai state has displayed an increased willingness to manipulate, over-use and go beyond the law to silence speech.

In this submission, we draw the attention of the Council to two kinds of cases representative of the deeply endangered climate for freedom of expression: overt, targeted criminal prosecution and wide-ranging intimidation and threats through legal and extralegal measures. In both kinds of cases, Article 112, the 2007 Computer Crimes Act, or both have been used directly or the spirit of the laws has been invoked. Article 112 criminalizes any speech or action judged to be against the institution of the monarchy: "Whoever defames, insults or threatens the King, Queen, the Heir-apparent or the Regent, shall be punished with imprisonment of three to fifteen years." The 2007 Computer Crimes Act punishes the importing of "false computer data, in a manner that is likely to cause damage" to a third party or the public or "is likely to damage the country’s security or cause a public panic" with a five-year jail term. The Act gives authorities wide-ranging powers to search the computers of suspected users, as well as to request information from internet service providers about the identities of owners of computers with particular IP addresses. Although the 2007 Computer Crimes Act was initially promulgated as part of Thailand’s compliance as a signatory of the United National Convention on Transnational Organized Crime, it has been increasing used in combination with Article 112 to target cyber-dissidents as well as ordinary citizens using the internet in Thailand.

The ongoing prosecution of Ms. Chiranuch Premchaiporn clearly illustrates the over-use and manipulation of the law to intimidate citizens and silence speech critical of the monarchy and ruling government regime.

Ms. Chiranuch Premchaiporn, editor of the webboard for Prachatai, a progressive online newspaper, is currently on trial in the Criminal Court in Bangkok for alleged violations of both Article 112 and the 2007 Computer Crimes Act. She has been accused of not removing comments deemed offensive to the monarchy quickly enough from the Prachatai webboard. She is being prosecuted for the speech of others, not anything she herself said or wrote. The Asian Legal Resource would further emphasize that Ms. Chiranuch removed the posts in question from the webboard; at the time the alleged posts were made, there were over 2,500 posts being made per day. In other words, Ms. Chiranuch is facing a lengthy jail sentence on the basis of the speed with which she removed the allegedly offensive speech. While Ms. Chiranuch Premchaiporn's case stands out due to the severity of the sentence she may be facing, there are many other similar cases in which Article 112 and the 2007 Computer Crimes Act are being used to target both those who write dissident speech online and those who, like her, create or moderate space online for citizens to share opinions and ideas.

Her trial began in February 2011 with witness hearings for the prosecution. After only five days of hearings, the court postponed the remainder of her trial until September and October 2011. If convicted in this case, she faces up to fifty years in prison. Ms. Chiranuch is facing another similar trial in Khon Kaen province for which she was charged in September 2010; no date has been set for the start of the second trial.

In September 2010, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Mrs. Margaret Sekkaggya, addressed the case of Ms. Chiranuch Premchaiporn in a report to the UN Human Rights Council detailing cases transmitted to governments and replies received (A/HRC/16/44/Add. 1). The Special Rapporteur expressed concern over Ms. Chiranuch's case, the criminalization of dissident speech and the severity of possible punishment if she is convicted.

In their replies of October 2010 and February 2011, the Thai government noted that "Thailand, as an open society, upholds the people’s right to freedom of speech and expression as guaranteed by the Constitution. The exercise of such rights, however, must bear in mind considerations regarding national stability and social harmony. Views that are disrespectful of the monarchy, or advocate hatred or hostile feelings towards this important national institution, or those which incite hatred or violence are generally unacceptable in the Thai society." The Thai government also noted that the laws under which Ms. Chiranuch was prosecuted are in line with both the Thai Constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), justifying the restriction on certain kinds of speech with reference to the "special duties and responsibilities" stipulated for freedom of expression in the ICCPR. The Thai government further noted that as the case proceedings against Ms. Chiranuch are still ongoing "it is important not to prejudge the decision of the Court at this stage."

The issue of "special duties and responsibilities" vis-à-vis freedom of speech is complicated by the fact that Ms. Chiranuch Premchaiporn was not the author of the speech in question. In their response to the Special Rapporteur, the Thai government has failed to address the very basic question of why this case is being prosecuted in the first place. It is particularly troubling that the Thai government would cite the provision of "special duties and responsibilities" vis-à-vis freedom of expression in the ICCPR as a reason to criminally prosecute a web editor for not removing questionable webboard posts quickly enough. This indicates an interpretation of the ICCPR by the Thai government that attempts to manipulate the provisions of the covenant to justify actions that are clearly in contradiction with both the spirit of the law and Thailand’s obligations as a state party. Article 19 of the ICCPR is explicit that restrictions to freedom of expression are only permitted when necessity is clearly present; necessity has not been clearly demonstrated in this case.

In addition to the formal case proceedings against Ms. Chiranuch Premchaiporn for alleged violations of Article 112 of the Thai Criminal Code and the 2007 Computer Crimes Act, during the last year, the Asian Legal Resource Center has observed an increase in wide-ranging intimidation and threats against freedom of expression through legal and extralegal measures. This has included cases in which individuals have been criminally charged as well as those in which it has been intimated that they might be charged. In particular, the cases of Dr. Somsak Jeamteerasakul and Mr. Somyos Preuksakasemsuk indicate the development of an ominous trend in the expansion from constriction of freedom of expression to constriction of freedom of thought.

On 7 April 2011, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, the commander of the army, directly criticized and derided Dr. Somsak Jeamteerasakul, a well-known historian at Thammasat University in Bangkok, describing him as "a mentally ill academic" who "is intent on overthrowing the institution" of the monarchy. In the current highly polarized political situation in Thailand, where ultra-conservative forces are using the symbolic power of the king and royal institutions to advance a new authoritarian project, these statements from the head of the army are not only inappropriate but also are extraordinarily dangerous. While the police have not yet charged Somsak with any offence, according to various sources, some kind of investigation is underway against him. At the same time, he has been threatened extralegally. Unknown men have come on motorcycles to nearby his house, and he has been receiving harassing telephone calls, which in Thailand constitute early warning signals of impending violence if the target does not stop whatever he or she is doing.

On 30 April 2011, Mr. Somyos Preuksakasemsuk, labour activist and editor of the opposition-aligned Red Power magazine, was arrested on charges of alleged violating Article 112. While the official charges cited an article allegedly damaging to the monarchy in Red Power, in a letter written from jail on 2 May 2011, Mr. Somyos suggested that his arrest may have instead resulted from his work educating people about the dangers of Article 112 and collecting signatures for a petition to repeal the law. Indicating the likelihood of this possibility, and the signaling the political nature of his arrest, the arrest warrant was issued on 12 February 2011, over two months before the arrest was carried out. Notably, Mr. Somyos was also targeted one year ago by the state and arbitrarily detained for several weeks in April-May 2010 after the ad-hoc military-police-civilian Center for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation (CRES) accused him of being part of a plan to topple the monarchy.

The targeting of Dr. Somsak Jeamteerasakul, both by General Prayuth Chan-ocha and unidentified figures, rather than bringing formal criminal charges against him indicates a blurring of the boundary between the legal and the extrajudicial in Thailand. What makes this an ominous development for both freedom of expression and the broader atmosphere for human rights in Thailand is that while a criminal case can be challenged by the accused in court, harassment and extrajudicial threats cannot be directly countered. The arrest of Mr. Somyos Preuksakasemsuk, seemingly for actions beyond those for which he was formally charged, similarly indicates a weakening of the rule of law in Thailand.

Increased arrests, charges, and convictions under both Article 112 and the 2007 Computer Crimes Act and related extralegal harassment and intimidation represent a grave threat to freedom of expression in Thailand. As Thailand attempts to undergo a process of national reconciliation in the aftermath of the violence of April and May 2010, this latest constriction of speech and threat to human rights is of particular concern. Without the free and unobstructed flow of information, neither human rights nor the rule of law can be strengthened in Thailand. Without respect for human rights and the rule of law, the process of national reconciliation will also fall short of fostering accountability for violence.

All three of the cases discussed in this submission point to a significant tension between the enforcement of Article 112 of the Thai Criminal Code and the 2007 Computer Crimes Act, and Thailand’s obligations to protect freedom of speech which are enshrined in both the International Convention for Civil and Political Rights and the 2007 Constitution. The Asian Legal Resource Center finds the Thai government’s citation of the "special duties and responsibilities" which accompany freedom of expression inadequate. In particular, the ALRC urges the Thai government to be cautious about labeling every instance of dissident speech dangerous to the monarchy or national security.

The ALRC urges the Special Rapporteur on the freedom of opinion and expression to raise the above issues with the Thai government. More widely, the ALRC urges the Special Rapporteur to conduct a study to evaluate the quantity, timeliness and quality of the Thai government responses to the mandate's interventions and recommendations -- similar to the study carried out by the Special Rapporteur on torture--and urges the Human Rights Council to make the required resources available for this.

# # #

About the ALRC: The Asian Legal Resource Centre is an independent regional non-governmental organisation holding general consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. It is the sister organisation of the Asian Human Rights Commission. The Hong Kong-based group seeks to strengthen and encourage positive action on legal and human rights issues at the local and national levels throughout Asia.

Interesting Akha Mass Photo Search
May 10, 2011
Hi, one of my jobs is to always be on the look out for something related to the Akha that is interesting for you. And while I was "Troll"ing on the web I found this interesting program and played with it a bit. You can do this search or one of your own, but this link is set up for the Akha. If you go up in the url line you can look where it says "number=" and you can type in the number you want, changing it from 100 to 1000 if you want. Down at the bottom of the page you can pick the next set of photos and you can also shrink them to thumbnail so that they load faster. I estimated that there are at least 10,000 photos of the Akha to see on Flickr. What is interesting about this is that there are hundreds of photographers, all taking pictures of the Akha in Thailand, Burma, Laos, China for every possible reason, some new, some very old. If you have band width and you set the url line at "number=1000" you can scroll through hundreds of photos seeing all kinds of historic information of ceremonies, portraits, villages, farming, all of it. A really fantastic method. In seconds you can scroll through a thousand or more pictures. How is that for a movie? Thanks to Hive Mind and Nathan Siemers.
Akha Photo Search on Flickr


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