28.05.2019 Author: Joseph Thomas

Human Rights Hypocrisy: Defending Billionaires, Destroying Journalists

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In the wake of Thailand’s recent elections, US and European-backed opposition forces were caught flatfooted, reeling from losing the popular vote to the military-linked Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP).

Additionally, “rising political star” as the Western media refers to him, billionaire heir Thanathorn Jungrungreangkit, head of the opposition Future Forward Party (FFP), has found himself in legal turmoil, facing various corruption cases and charges of sedition.

Defending a Billionaire

Thanathorn’s FFP is favoured by the West as an appropriate proxy to roll back Thai-Chinese relations and eliminate Thai institutions impeding Western interests in Thailand.

So favoured by the West is Thanathorn and his Future Forward Party, that when he was summoned by Thai police to hear charges against him, he was accompanied by over a dozen representatives of Western embassies including from the US, UK, Canada, Finland, the Netherlands, France, Germany and EU diplomats.

Responding to what was blatant interference in Thailand’s internal political affairs, Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) would release a statement noting (our emphasis):

Regardless of the intention, the presence of Embassies’ representatives the police station with such a visibility and the publicity it generated were clearly an act of political significance, seen by the Thai public largely as a show of moral support to Mr. Thanathorn.

In other words, it was a political act, or a political statement on the part of the Embassies.

It clearly amounted to the Embassies choosing to be a player in Thai domestic politics, at least by having taken side in the country’s political landscape.

The Royal Thai Government considers such action to be in breach of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (VCDR), Article 41, and the internationally recognised principle of non-interference in internal affairs of sovereign nations.

The statement was posted most visibly by “Thailand senior researcher” at Human Rights Watch (HRW) Sunai Phasuk, who would himself add in a social media post:

Baring fangs to please military government, [the Thai MFA] attempted to harass western diplomats only to be told that observation of major lawsuits; court proceedings is standard practice for countries that respect human rights and due process. 

But do the countries who were present at the police station on April 6 truly “respect human rights and due process” as Sunai and the embassies themselves have tried to claim?

Destroying a Journalist

As US, British and European diplomats who “respect human rights and due process” were providing support to billionaire Thanathorn Jungrungreangkit in Thailand, the nations they represent were preparing to arrest journalist Julian Assange in London and extradite him to the United States.

Assange’s arrest is specifically for his role in exposing the corruption and human rights abuses carried out by these “countries that respect human rights and due process.” The charges against him are precisely the sort of politically-motivated charges in reality that organisations like HRW claim in fiction are being used to prosecute undoubtedly corrupt billionaire Thanathorn in Thailand.

It doesn’t appear that European embassies in the UK sent any “observers” to oversee “human rights and due process” regarding Assange’s case, with most political and media concerns across the West  instead attempting to sell Assange’s arrest as justified.

It should also be remembered that these same nations (the US, UK and the EU) have also illegally waged war, meddled in the foreign affairs of other nations around the globe and are engaged in a variety of abuses against their own populations in violation of their own domestic laws as well as international law.

While they posed as defenders of “human rights and due process” in Bangkok, Thailand, they unashamedly support regimes like those in power in Riyadh and Doha who are unelected and rule with iron fists over their populations while brutalising their neighbours. In Saudi Arabia, for example, public executions via beheading are still performed, while Riyadh carries out a destructive war on neighbouring Yemen, facts that appears to have no impact on the flow of weapons and political support to Saudi Arabia from these “human rights-respecting” nations.

The hypocrisy and abuse of human rights advocacy at play here couldn’t be any more blatant.

Power not Principles Drive Western “Humanitarian Concern” 

Human Rights Watch, which Sunai works for, has only made token statements regarding Assange’s arrest.

In the past several weeks almost nothing about Assange’s arrest has been posted by HRW on social media, while stories regarding the ouster of Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir have flooded its timeline on platforms like Twitter. Even Sunai, based in Thailand, has commented on Sudan, with not a word from him written about Assange’s arrest in London.

Only when understanding Bashir’s relationship with Beijing and Anglo-American designs to bar China from further expansion in Africa, do the true motivations prompting disingenuous human rights advocacy and “concern” regarding Sudan versus apathy regarding Assange across the West bubble up to the surface.

Assange threatens Western special interests, so his arrest is of little interest to quasi-rights advocates who depend on these special interests for funding. In fact, tacitly justifying his arrest is already being done by the Western media.

On the other side of the coin, Sudan’s political crisis opens the door for a possible pro-Western government to take power and foil Chinese interests, thus it is of great interest to these “rights advocates.”

Politically-motivated rights organisations like Human Rights Watch are not only misleading the public, they are irrevocably undermining genuine rights advocacy.

By exposing their hypocrisy and the hypocrisy of the special interests they represent in the capitals of America, the United Kingdom and across Europe, nations like Thailand are better able to protect their sovereignty, while genuine rights activists are better able to defend genuine targets of injustice like Julian Assange.

As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Whether or not Thai sovereignty or Julian Assange are topics that interest or directly impact you today, their sovereignty and rights as a nation and as an individual respectively will eventually impact topics, nations and people that do interest or directly affect you.

Joseph Thomas is chief editor of Thailand-based geopolitical journal, The New Atlas and contributor to the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.  


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