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05BANGKOK1573 THAI MFA PERMSEC SUMMONS THE AMBASSADOR OVER 2004 HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT

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“28037”,”3/3/2005 10:42″,”05BANGKOK1573″,

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,”05BANGKOK1527″,

“This record is a partial extract of the original cable.

The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

“,”C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 001573

 

SIPDIS

 

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP, EAP/BCLTV, DRL. US PACOM FOR FPA HUSO.

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/03/2015

TAGS: PREL, PHUM, PGOV, TH, HUMAN RIGHTS

SUBJECT: THAI MFA PERMSEC SUMMONS THE AMBASSADOR OVER 2004

HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT

 

REF: BANGKOK 1527

 

Classified By: Ambassador Ralph L. Boyce. Reason 1.4 (b, d)

 

1. (C) Summary: Foreign Ministry (MFA) Permanent Secretary

Krit Garnjana-Goonchorn told the Ambassador March 2 that the

2004 Human Right Report (HRR) on Thailand presented

government actions (at Khru Se mosque and Tak Bai) in the

deep South in a misleading light by failing to place them in

the context of the separatist insurgency. He raised a few

other specific \”inaccuracies\” and complained about the

general methodology of the report. His main message, however,

was that the RTG regards the HRR as \”interference\” and that

it creates difficulties in the bilateral relationship. He

said the MFA would try to limit the damage caused. MFA has

by and large tried to play down the issue after calling in

the Ambassador. Krit said MFA has advised PM Thaksin not to

react publicly. End Summary.

 

2. (C) On March 2, the Ambassador was called in to the MFA by

Permanent Secretary Krit Garnjana-Goonchorn over the Thailand

chapter of the 2004 HRR. Krit said he wished to express the

Royal Thai Government\’s deep unhappiness over some of the

content of the HRR as well as the way release of the report

had been handled. The report had hurt bilateral relations,

he said, and he wanted to discuss with the Ambassador how to

limit further damage. Krit was accompanied by MFA Americas

Director General Nongnuth Petcharatana, Ministry spokesman

Sihasak Puangketkaew and other Americas Department officials.

Polcouns Clarke took notes for the Ambassador.

 

MFA ASSERTS HUMAN RIGHT REPORT IS FLAWED…

 

3. (C) Krit, referring to an article in the February 28

edition of the English-language newspaper The Nation which

purported to preview the HRR, complained about \”prior

leakage.\” He assured the Ambassador that nobody at MFA was

responsible. (Note: The Nation has hinted to us that its

source was MFA which, while not in possession of an advance

copy, had been well-briefed for months about major events at

Khru Se mosque and Tak Bai that are condemned in the HRR.

End note.) He also said that \”members of Thai civil society\”

who had attended an Embassy meeting with NGO representatives

and RTG officials about the HRR on March 1, were \”dual

capacity\” and had provided quotes to the press. DG Nongnuth

interjected her familiar objection that the U.S. should not

be \”PR\’ing\” its criticisms of human rights in Thailand.

(Note: NGO reps did in fact accurately quote from the

discussion, but primarily gave the press their reactions,

generally favorable, to the HRR. End Note.)

 

4. (C) Krit said that he was aware the U.S. had been open

over the past year to MFA explanations of human rights abuse

incidents. However, it was the view of the RTG that our

final 2004 Report had a \”greatly reduced value\” because of

\”fundamental flaws.\” These, he said, fell into two areas: 1)

\”misleading presentation,\” where an overall context of

positive human rights developments in Thailand had been

omitted or minimized; and 2) where the \”unscientific nature\”

of the collection methodology resulted in assertions that

were \”off the mark.\”

 

5. (C) Krit offered several specific complaints. The

opening pages of the HRR contain a number of sweeping

generalizations, including about corruption. Many incidents

may be committed by individuals, he said, but the implication

is that the government was involved. Readers pick up unduly

negative impressions from sections when they don\’t understand

the background. Writing about the Khru Se mosque incident,

for example, cannot be balanced without discussion of the

violent insurgency that the RTG faces in the South. Peaceful

handling the South is on the top of the Thai national agenda,

Krit said. PM Thaksin had just established a National

Reconciliation Commission headed by Anand Panyarachun, so the

situation was not as static as portrayed in the HRR.

 

6. (C) Krit also raised a reference to the murder of a

Pattani Court judge which seemed to suggest that he was

killed by RTG authorities. He said that under common law

there is a presumption of innocence until proven guilty, and

this assertion with no attribution stepped over the line.

(Note: The judge almost certainly was killed by

anti-government gunmen. End note.) Further, Krit said that

under the \”unlawful killings\” section, the HRR had reported

on deaths of persons from land mines. \”How could deaths by

landmines be classified as a human rights abuses and put in

this section,\” he asked. (Note: The category is actually

\”Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life,\” and inclusion of

land mine death figures — as arbitrary deaths — is in the

HRR drafting instructions. End Note.)

 

…AND DAMAGES U.S.-THAI RELATIONS

 

7. (C) Krit said that there certainly could be genuine

differences of opinion about events, but the main thrust of

his message to the Ambassador was RTG concern over what was

seen as an unwarranted interference in the domestic affairs

of Thailand. Thais, including the prime minister, did not

understand why this was happening, especially in the period

of post-tsunami cooperation. The \”sudden\” publication of the

Human Rights Report had created difficulties for the

bilateral relationship, he said. Krit said that the RTG

wanted to avoid the \”annual public spectacle\” of release of

the HRR, and would try to dampen public reaction against the

U.S. in response to this year\’s report. The MFA would only

note to the press that it had been in contact with the

Ambassador about inaccuracies and asked for corrections.

However, he added, this should not be understood as lessening

the strength of the RTG concerns he had outlined.

 

8. (C) Spokesman Sihasak commented that the way that material

in the HRR was organized was a problem. He suggested that if

the U.S. had highlighted the government\’s efforts to promote

people\’s economic well-being and fight trafficking that would

have toned down the HRR. He shared his insight that the

press and politicians were using the HRR against the

government.

 

9. (C) The Ambassador said he would report RTG concerns

about the HRR to Washington and would check on the specifics

raised. He said that, while not wanting to sound at all

defensive about the report, he regretted any inaccuracies

that it might contain. He said that the HRR was mandated,

and he had experienced sensitivities over it in every country

where he had been posted. Every effort had been made, he

said, to ensure factual accuracy and avoid subjective

analysis. He pointed out, however, that even if Khru Se and

Tak Bai had not occurred, human rights are a concern in our

foreign policy and there would still have been a report.

 

HANDLING MEDIA COVERAGE

 

10. (C) The Ambassador told Krit that he sought the PermSec\’s

guidance on how best to try to keep this \”a one day crisis

and not a five day crisis.\” He asked whether he would be

facing photographers when he exited the MFA. Krit and

Sihasak assured him that they did \”not practice that kind of

diplomacy.\” As the Ambassador left MFA, the press was in

fact staked out to cover the departure. From March 3 news

articles, the follow-on briefing that Sihasak gave to

journalists apparently stuck largely to the theme that MFA

had conveyed its concerns and asked for corrections, although

Sihasak also provided some detail that Krit had not been

happy about substance on the South and methodology. The

Thai-language newspaper Matichon carried a front page picture

over the headline, \”The MFA deems the southern information

one-sided, prods the Americans to improve it, and summons

their big ambassador for acknowledgment,\” but coverage of the

HRR was otherwise brief and buried in the inside pages of

most newspapers on March 3.

 

MFA ADVICE TO THAKSIN: BEST NOT TO COMMENT PUBLICLY

 

11. (C) Krit telephoned the Ambassador on March 3 to touch

base and apologize for the press presence, explaining they

had been there for another purpose. He was pleased that the

media had played the \”summoning in\” story in a generally

straight-forward manner. The Ambassador noted that Prime

Minister Thaksin remained quiet on the issue, and Krit

responded that MFA had sent him a memo immediately after the

March 2 meeting providing advice in that vein.

 

12. (C) Comment: Krit is fully aware that the HRR is a

mandated annual report. The inaccuracies he raised are

debatable, as is the issue of whether our coverage of Khru Se

and Tak Bai needs any more context than is already provided

in the report. While the specific Thai complaints in our

view do not warrant fixes, the strength of MFA\’s reaction

(and reportedly Thaksin\’s) should not be dismissed as simply

an annual ritual. MFA has been lobbying diligently for

months to try to soften the HRR Thailand chapter, and its

annual release will continue to create serious bilateral

tensions. It remains to be seen whether Thaksin\’s silence on

the HRR will survive the week and his opportunity this

Saturday to comment on it during his weekly national radio

broadcast. End Comment.

BOYCE

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Written by thaicables

July 6, 2011 at 7:42 am

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