Ex-minister sets up anti-junta group in exile

 
A month after the coup, the first anti-junta group was set up on Tuesday. Jarupong Ruangsuwan, former leader of the Pheu Thai Party and former Interior Minister, announced on Tuesday morning the establishment of the Organization of Free Thais for Human Rights and Democracy (FTHD), which aims at opposing the junta government and calls for the restoration of democracy and human rights principles. 
 
“On behalf of Thais worldwide who are committed to the principles of democracy and universal human rights, I hereby announce our complete and total refutation of the legitimacy of the NCPO. The military regime and its conspirators have no legitimate power whatsoever to govern the country’s economy and society. 
 
“We will do everything in our power to prevent the re-entrenchment of anti-democratic elements in Thailand, to defend all forms of freedom, to demand respect in all forms of human rights, and to establish a full democracy as a permanent pillar of Thai society,” said Jarupong in a video published on the FTHD Facebook page at 5.42 am on Tuesday. 
 
 
Screenshot of the video where Jarupong Ruangsuwan announces the establishment of the Organization of Free Thais for Human Rights and Democracy (FTHD) 
 
The FTHD adopted the name of the Free Thai Movement or Seri Thai, which was the name of an underground Thai resistance movement against Imperial Japan during World War II. The statement says it has adopted the name because it has a “deep resonance with ordinary Thais, reflecting their genuine desires for freedom and dignity.” 
 
Jarupong added that the goals of the group are: 
1. to oppose the military dictatorship and its aristocratic network, and establish the people’s complete and unchallenged sovereignty;
2. to restore and strengthen Thai democracy so that it becomes the stable founding pillar of the Thai state;
3. to guarantee and nurture respect for human dignity, equality, freedom, and peace;
4. to promote a free and fair economy;
5. to reform Thai culture so that its values are fully consistent with democracy;
6. to fully develop and improve the quality of life for all Thai citizens
 
On the Facebook page also appears a video of Jakrapob Penkair, former minister and former leader of the red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, reading their statement in English. 
 
Jarupong and Jakrapob were summoned by the military after Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha staged the coup d’état on May 22. Jakrapob, who has been living in exile since 2009 after being charged with lèse majesté, is also facing an arrest warrant for not reporting to the military. 
 
They are reportedly living in self-exile in Cambodia. 
 
 Video of Jakrapob Penkair reading the statement in English.
 
 
 
The following is the statement of FIDH in English:
 
Dear Fellow Thais,
 
It is now tragically evident that Thailand has returned, once again, to a vicious cycle of absolute dictatorial governance. The military junta regime that enacted this - in the name of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) led by the Army chief, Gen. Prayuth Chan-Ocha - has used force to seize power from a democratically-elected civilian government. This is an outrageous act that has violated both Thai and international laws.
 
It is clear that the junta’s actions are nothing but a grand larceny. What they have stolen, however, are your most precious sovereignty and fundamental rights that are legally guaranteed under democratic governance. It’s impossible to put a price on these rights because they are directly equivalent to basic human dignity - a treasure whose value is immeasurable.
 
Moreover, the junta has violated the rule of law, abused democratic principles, and destroyed your rights, liberties, and human dignity. These are their most destructive crimes. The junta’s attempts to propagandise these criminal acts as legitimate are predictable - with their false promise to return “peace and order” - being nothing more than a deception wherein they attempt to rationalise and excuse their criminal actions. Their ultimate aim is to attempt to persuade ordinary Thai people to believe that dictatorship is superior to democracy. This game plan of demeaning and discrediting your sovereignty is one that has always been played out by Thai dictators and, as always, it has failed and will fail.
 
We condemn all the arbitrary and repressive violations of the rights and liberty of Thais and foreigners by the Thai military regime and its allies in their continued attempts to turn Thailand into a “state of fear”. The military regime have also claimed that at some point they will transfer sovereign power back to civilian authorities. 
 
What they mean is that that will have created a new puppet structure whose sole purpose will be to re-entrench anti-democratic elements into Thailand’s body-politic and to sabotage the development of Thai democracy. Any such structure will need to be removed before a more democratic and civilised society can be built.
 
On behalf of Thais worldwide who are committed to the principles of democracy and universal human rights, I hereby announce our complete and total refutation of the legitimacy of the NCPO. The military regime and its conspirators have no legitimate power whatsoever to govern the country’s economy and society.
 
Furthermore, we will do everything in our power to prevent the re-entrenchment of anti-democratic elements in Thailand, to defend all forms of freedom, to demand respect in all forms of human rights, and to establish a full democracy as permanent pillar of Thai society.
 
In order for Thais to establish a full democracy in which sovereign power lies fully with the people, we again completely refute the legitimacy of the Thai military regime and officially announce the establishment of the “Organisation of Free Thais for Human Rights and Democracy (FT-HD) on this day Tuesday, June 24th, 2014. This organisation will now become the centre for all Thais who possess an unyielding desire for full democracy, in full compliance with the principles of democracy, universal human rights, international laws, and non-violence.
 
The term “Free Thai” or “Seri Thai” - with its connections to the resistance movement during World War II - has a deep resonance with ordinary Thais, reflecting their genuine desires for freedom and dignity. We are fortunate today that Thais have such an historical role model in order to struggle against yet another oppressor. And our oppressors need to be clear - we will not remain inactive and accept the imposed order and we will fight together until victory is fully realised.
 
Colleagues in Thailand and other nations around the world have therefore agreed to pursue the following initial goals for the establishment of the “Organisation of Free Thai for Human Rights”:
 
1. To oppose the military dictatorship and its aristocratic network, and establish the people’s complete and unchallenged sovereignty;
2. To restore and strengthen Thai democracy so that it becomes the stable founding pillar of the Thai state;
3 To guarantee and nurture respect for human dignity, equality, freedom, and peace;
4 To promote a free and fair economy;
5 To reform Thai culture so that its values are fully consistent with democracy;
6. To fully develop and improve the quality of life for all Thai citizens
 
I hereby announce the establishment of the Organisation of Free Thais for Human Rights and Democracy (FT-HD). Our struggle will become possible when all groups and sectors work hard and actively together so that we can meet our common goals.
 
Announced on Tuesday, June 24th, 2014
 
(Signed)
 
Mr.Charupong Reuangsuwan
Secretary General
 
freethai7557@gmail.com