Robert Amsterdam Launches Independent Campaign to Hold Thailand’s Coup Leaders Accountable – January 2, 2015
…The campaign will be conducted on a pro bono basis, completely independently from any active political figure or party in Thailand.
…However following a military coup last May which toppled the elected government, conditions for human rights have sharply deteriorated, and the engagement between Robert Amsterdam and former Prime Minister Thaksin has concluded…
[Some interesting claims here: that Amsterdam stopped representing Thaksin after the coup, that the new anti-junta campaign will be independent of Thaksin, and that “horrific repression” is underway in Thailand.
Amsterdam, despite being employed by Thaksin, was always styled as “UDD Counsel,” responsible for representing the Red Shirt movement.
It is not clear whether the very Thaksinesque blog posts from Amsterdam since the coup were still part of the Thaksin lobbying effort or were his own work. They included an article predicting that the army would unleash “terrorist actions” against the presumably peaceful Red Shirts after the coup. Also, right out of the Red Shirt playbook, was the post-coup reference to an “Inevitable Revolution” while lamenting how Europe and the U.S. were accepting the results of the coup as a normal historical development in Thailand.
This new lobbying effort may be the first reveal of Thaksin’s upcoming strategy to claw back power–make sure the focus remains on the junta’s performance. The international response to the coup was indifference, along with many analyses of the coup explaining it away as a typical Thai event that could be expected in the wake of Pheu Thai’s clumsy attempts to pardon Thaksin, rewrite the charter, and use the rice pledging scheme to empty state coffers and pay its supporters.
The new Amsterdam campaign may take some pressure off Thaksin and the Pheu Thai. Internally, both have been slammed for passively acquiescing to the junta instead of agitating for immediate elections and leading the Red Shirts.
The Pheu Thai Party will now be focused on energizing its supporters over rural economic issues and an increasingly deteriorating economic situation. The pro-Thaskin movement is counting on this and will make sure that the “coup is bad for business” line will be ready when economic times go bad.
Still to come is the inevitable build up of outrage over a military dominated post-coup state once the outlines of a new constitution is known. Watch for an attempt to define this for the international community: “the military dictatorship in Thailand,” “democracy is not being restored in Thailand,” “death of freedom in Thailand,” etc.
Here is another recent display of anti-coup talking points for international consumption: Forbes: “Thailand’s Military Junta Destroys Democracy, Enjoys Exercising Power: Generals Postpone Elections Before Rigging Them”
2Bangkok.com Editor Ron Morris’ book, The Thai Book: A Field Guide to Thai Political Motivations, is available in the Kindle Store.]