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Bigger Protests Against Thailand’s Amnesty Bill

From the Facebook page of medical students at Chulalongkorn University

From the Facebook page of medical students at Chulalongkorn University

More groups and individuals in Thailand have expressed opposition to the controversial Amnesty Bill by marching in the streets. A few days after parliament approved the bill last November 1, tens of thousands joined protest actions in Bangkok to show their disapproval to the measure which would give blanket amnesty to politicians and leaders who committed political offenses since 2006.

Opposition to the bill emerged after it was reported that the amended version of the measure would benefit corrupt politicians and human rights violators. In particular, the opposition party said the bill will ‘whitewash’ the crimes of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra who fled the country after being found guilty of plunder by a local court.

Thaksin was deposed by a coup in 2006. His younger sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, is Thailand’s prime minister today. According to Thaksin’s critics, the bill will allow the former leader to return to the country and recover his wealth which was sequestered by the government.

Aside from political parties, various institutions have also opposed the measure. School and hospital protests were organized in the past two days. Most notably, thousands of Chulalongkorn University lecturers, staff, students and alumni marched in the streets to express their rejection of the bill.

The senate will tackle the bill next week.

Reactions on Twitter reveal the unpopularity of the measure and the size of protests in Bangkok:

Live reporting….from Siam. Mobs everywhere. Advice to avoid those areas.

Many Facebook and Twitter users also uploaded photos in opposition to the bill:

Somyot Pruksakasemsuk questions why violators of the lese majeste (anti-royal insult) law will not be covered in the Amnesty Bill:

In the name of reconciliation, the law itself is obviously hypocritical. Notably, it does not include those convicted or accused under Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the lèse majesté law, although they also are obviously victims of political conflict. The lèse majesté prisoners were sentenced because they expressed political views during the peak of the political conflict. By claiming that the amnesty draft bill is for equality contradicts the principle of equality itself.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is urging the public not to ‘politicize’ the bill:

…several groups appear not ready to embrace forgiveness and are mired in differences.

I don't want to see the politicisation of the bill with the aim of unseating the elected government and derailing democratic rule once again.

The bill has been distorted to cause misunderstanding as a fiscal issue.

The government's main goal is to bring about reconciliation. In the face of prevailing differences, the government would like all sides to pause in order to stop causing further divisiveness.

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