‘Human Rights Watch’ (HRW) and other human rights groups have lost some clout thanks to Thaksin. It is clear they were not paying much attention to actual events and based their statements on Red Shirt propaganda and not the truth. The damage has been done and it will take some time or changes at the top to undo the damage.
When you’re a global organization it is important that your statements be based on facts and not propaganda from any one side. If they fail to do so they lose credibility as well as become a political tool of one side or the other. What happened in Thailand caused just that to happen.
The Thai government went out of its way to avoid harming other Thais. This was not an after the fact observation, but an on going well documented observation by local and international media. There was no shortage of accurate information from independent sources. The fact that it took so long before finally forcing the Red Shirts out should have been a big flag to sit up and take notice.
When the first stage being containment started, a person could simply look at a map and see that clashes were outside of the containment area, and that can only mean the Red shirts were on an offensive and were using military weapons including rocket propelled grenades. Without even hearing a news report one could conclude the Red Shirts were attacking.
It was during this containment operation that the first statements came from the human rights groups that clearly put blame on the Thai government for using deadly force. They made no mention that the Thai Military and police were in a defensive posture fending off lethal attacks from the Red Shirts. That was the first statement that clearly said it was an off the shelf statement that did not match the facts of the situation. If someone is shooting at you looking to kill you, fighting back to save your life is a right as well as a human instinct. But according to the human rights group reading between the lines, civilians can do no wrong. It also is a clear sign pro Thaksin people were in contact with the human rights groups feeding them their twisted propaganda.
The second statement came when the actual crackdown started. There was already clear evidence that the Red Shirts were not some passive peace loving group, but in fact an armed group seeking to overthrow the Thai government by any means with the emphasis on violence. But the statements from the human rights groups came across as innocent civilians having a peaceful protest.
Based on this and other examples of past statements from the human rights groups, it is clear they are issuing statements that do not match the situation. It is also clear they forget that after a democratic election, the government changes and must be given a clean slate to prove themselves. Placing blame on present governments for actions and behaviors of past governments is simply a form of prejudice. The word prejudice comes from the phrase ‘to pre judge’, and that seems to be the case. The present Thai government is very far from anything Thailand has seen before.
Seeing that the human rights groups were listening to elements or agents of those past governments seeking to discredit the present government, any statement must be carefully checked against the facts or it will become a political tool. In this case it is very clear the human rights groups became a tool of Thaksin who has an appalling human rights record. Because of that human rights groups that played into Thaksin’s game have significantly lowered their credibility with guilt by association and the indications of prejudice.
This is not the first time human rights groups have made statements based on inaccurate information, and because of that their credibility is frequently questioned. The saying ‘Start brain before engaging mouth’ should be heeded more often if not always for this group or they will self defeat their purpose.