Fact Check: Did Thailand Really Arrest a “Top Human Rights Lawyer?”

May 4, 2017 (LD) – A recent article published by RT titled, “Top Thai human rights lawyer faces 150 years in prison for ‘royal insult’,” repeats almost verbatim talking points drawn from US and European media, as well as US-funded organizations posing as “nongovernmental organizations” (NGOs).

The “top Thai human rights lawyer” mentioned in the headline is actually a representative of an armed militant group, the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) which killed over 100 and maimed hundreds more in multiple failed attempts aimed at overthrowing the Thai political order spanning form 2006-2014.

The militant group, organized and directed by ousted former prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, represents yet another US-backed effort at undermining and overthrowing a political order obstructing its corporate-financier interests both within Thailand itself, and within the Asian region.  

Image: RT’s article claims a “top Thai human rights lawyer” faces prison for “royal insult.” The article mentions his role in representing the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) in cases regarding their 2010 protest. Pictured above are UDD members participating in that “protest,” wielding an M16A2 rifle with an attached M204 40mm grenade launcher, AK47, and a hand grenade. Nearly 100 would die, hundreds more were maimed, with the UDD carrying out citywide arson before the violence was finally contained by government troops.  

Unmasking the “Top Thai Human Rights Lawyer” 

Information cited by RT regarding “lawyer” Prawet Prapanukul, comes from faux-NGO Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, created by the US State Department and funded annually by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), working exclusively to defend US-backed agitators as the current Thai government slowly tightens control over foreign-funded subversion.

Also mentioned is Human Rights Watch’s Thai representative, Sunai Phasuk, who was revealed in Wikileaks documents to be in direct contact with the US Embassy in Bangkok.

Phasuk also has a long track record of selectively condemning “human rights” abuses, condemning the current Thai government at every opportunity real or imagined, and omitting abuses carried out by the opposition, including broad daylight armed attacks carried out by the UDD on unarmed protesters in 2013-2014.

It is no surprise then, that both organizations conveniently omit what exactly the UDD is and what it has done throughout its sordid, violent history.

The attempt by both organizations to portray a UDD accomplice as a “human rights lawyer,” stands in contrast to the UDD’s status as the premier organization in Thailand actually usurping the rights of others through intimidation, violence, and mass murder.

Image: More members of the UDD. 

It should be noted that Shinawatra, who created and directs the UDD’s activities, carried out his own campaign of mass murder and politically motivated assassinations while in office between 2001-2006. He oversaw a “war on drugs” that left nearly 3,000 executed in the streets, and the death or disappearance of 18 human rights activists opposed to his policies.

Missed Opportunity 

In reality, the story RT was unable to present is one of political opportunists hiding behind the cause of human rights and freedom of expression, undermining both principles rather than upholding either of them. It is the same story unfolding in Syria, Libya, Yemen, Ukraine, across the rest of Southeast Asia in nations obstructing Wall Street and Washington’s regional ambitions, and even unfolding within Russia itself.

While Russia is presented to the global public by the Western media as an omnipresent, omniscient force threatening global stability with its ambitions of “empire,” the reality is Russia possesses a fraction of the military, political, diplomatic, and economic influence the US has.

As Russia attempts to rebalance this lopsided equation, dominated by Wall Street and Washington, it must use what few advantages it has. A far-reaching media platform like RT, independent of the West’s monopolies over information and public perception is one of those advantages, but only so if it practices independent research and reporting.

By repeating Western narratives regarding Thailand and lending legitimacy to fronts created by and for US special interests, it has only enhanced US ability to target and overturn political orders around the world.

Mistakes by busy staff rushing to cover unfolding news are inevitable, and in the past both RT and other Russian outlets like Sputnik have amply rectified these mistakes.

However, any attempt to counter Western narratives and the disingenuous special interests driving them cannot succeed if such narratives are being unquestionably repeated by the very networks organized to oppose them.