The chairman of Thailand’s official human rights body, Saneh Chamarik (above), on July 29 sent an open letter to the head of the United Nations expressing his agency’s most serious concern and dismay at a “blatant violation of human rights.”
As the writing of an open letter to the U.N. secretary-general is an unusual step for a statutory rights bureau, and given its strident tone, readers might expect that its topic would be one of utmost importance to the defense of human dignity in Thailand.
This would be mistaken. The purpose of the National Human Rights Commission’s letter was in actuality to lay blame for a puerile spat over an historic temple between the governments of Thailand and Cambodia with a U.N. committee.
According to Saneh, it is the World Heritage Committee, rather than politicking and self-interested nationalist leaders, that has somehow “endangered the lives of those who live along the Thai-Cambodian border.”
But Saneh does not stop there. He goes beyond any pretence of concern for the integrity of people residing nearby the contested site to lobby unashamedly for his own country’s claims.
“It seems that the views of the Thai side have been consistently overlooked,” he shrills, before concluding with a demand for an inquiry of some sort or another.
Official politeness will oblige a response, but it is hard to imagine the letter being received in New York with anything other than incredulity.
Although the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand has had its share of ups and downs and is certainly not alone among its peers in Asia in having missed the point of its work from time to time, other blunders pale in comparison to the disgrace caused with this outburst. Continue reading