The US Embassy has once again denied involvement in Thailand’s ongoing anti-government “student” protests – despite virtually every core group involved being funded by the US government through the National Endowment for Democracy.
September 11, 2020 (Tony Cartalucci – ATN) – The US Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand has been forced for a second time in a month to address growing evidence of its role behind current ongoing anti-government “student” protests.
This time, it is defending pictures turning up online of core protest leader Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak’s visits to the US Embassy in 2016 and 2018. An article by Thai-based English language newspaper The Nation in its article, “US Embassy dismisses claims it supports protesters,” would claim:
Allegations in the Thai media that the United States is supporting anti-government protesters were firmly rejected by the US Embassy in Bangkok on Thursday.
The allegations stem from photographs of student leader Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak meeting then-US ambassador Glyn Davies on a visit to the embassy in 2016.
The entire US Embassy statement can be read here. The article also claimed (emphasis added):
In its statement, the US Embassy said:
“Ambassadors and Embassy personnel regularly meet with a broad cross section of Thai nationals, not just with students and youth, but also with government, military, business and other leaders. Such meetings do not imply endorsement of any views.”
It went on to reject accusations it was supporting the ongoing protests.
Yet this is a categorical lie and a lie as easy to expose as simply visiting the US government’s notorious regime change arm, the US National Endowment for Democracy (NED)‘s own official website for programs it funds in Thailand.
The US NED itself is funded annually through an appropriation from US Congress and subject to US Congressional and US State Department oversight – according to its own website. It disperses US government money to programs interfering in the internal political affairs of nations around the globe and is actively facilitated by US embassies worldwide.
In Thailand, the US NED is funding several core organizations leading current anti-government protests. The US Embassy – who has since 2014 organized NED events in the country aimed specifically at creating “youth” movements involved in Thailand’s internal political affairs – is denying US government funding openly listed on its own US NED website.
US Government Funds Virtually Every Aspect of Thailand’s Current Protests
Virtually every aspect of the current anti-government protests in Thailand are funded by the US government.
Core Leadership: Core leader Anon Nampa’s Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) has been funded since its creation in 2014 by the US government via the US NED.
The US NED’s webpage for programs and organizations it is funding in Thailand had openly listed TLHR as a recipient of US money in 2014 – archived here. It has since funded TLHR through the Union for Civil Liberty (UCL) whose website lists TLHR at the bottom as a member. The UCL is listed on the NED’s current Thailand page.
TLHR’s own staff would at one time admit that all of their funding comes from foreign governments. The Bangkok Post in a 2016 article titled, “The lawyer preparing to defend herself,” would admit (emphasis added):
…[TLHR] receives all its funding from international donors including the EU, Germany and US-based human rights organisations and embassies of the UK and Canada.
US government-funded TLHR – in addition to supplying Anon Nampa as a core protest leader – also provides free legal aid to other protest members and uses its platform to daily promote anti-government activities. Virtually every protester or anti-government voice online as well as the Western media follows, cites, and on social media shares TLHR’s daily statements and claims.
Thai Constitution Rewrite: One of the three demands made by “student protesters” has been the rewriting of the Thai constitution. To facilitate this, an organization funded by the US NED calling itself Internet Law Reform Dialogue (iLaw) has organized a nationwide petition drive to sponsor a motion to rewrite the Thai constitution.
iLaw has organized booths at virtually every rally – big or small – around the entire country meaning that despite claims that the rallies are “self-organized,” “spontaneous,” and “organic” – US government-funded iLaw seems to know where and when each one will be and with enough time to organize a booth with professionally printed banners, signage, and staff to collect signatures for a constitution rewrite.
Imagine a Russian government-funded organization organizing a petition inside the US to rewrite America’s constitution and the US Embassy’s reaction to that. It would be easily conceived as nothing short of an act of war and is the best “test” to illustrate just how transparently dishonest the US Embassy in Bangkok’s denials of meddling in Thailand’s internal affairs really are.
Pro-Opposition Media: The US government via the NED also funds some of the largest opposition media platforms including Prachatai whose daily updates and claims about the protests are shared widely by those participating in and supporting the protests.
While some attempt to claim that the US NED is independent of the US government despite receiving its funding from it and being overseen by both the US Congress and the US State Department, the fact that US Embassy staff including US ambassadors regularly “check up” on US NED investments illustrates just how close these organizations are kept on their respective leashes by their foreign sponsors.
Opposition “Academics:” There are a number of supposed “academics” involved in supporting Thailand’s ongoing protests. Virtually all of them are either funded directly by the US government or are recipients of US government-funded scholarships or “study” and “research” programs.
This includes US NED-funded Cafe Democracy/Book Re:Public’s Pinkaew Laungaramsri and Nidhi Eoseewong of Chiang Mai University. In the direct aftermath of the 2014 coup, Pinkaew in an e-mail group would openly admit she would seek to solicit US government involvement in Thailand’s internal political affairs to pressure the new government, claiming:
I have written to several donors who fund activities of Book Re:public (USAID and OSF) to see if they can do anything to help out in this situation. Although it might not have much impact since the military seems to don’t care to listen to anyone, we still hope that international pressure would at least help make it difficult for the military junta to continue their aggressive treatment towards people.
Pinkaew and Nidhi’s “Cafe Democracy/Book Re:Public” regularly hosts staff from the US Consulate in Chiang Mai – something they proudly brag about on their social media page.
Other “academics” like Janjira_Sombatpoonsiri who regularly oppose the current Thai government and use their academic credentials to boost the credibility of protests – are involved in research programs funded by US government money through the US State Department as well as through the US military.
Her biography provided by the Washington DC-based International Center on Nonviolent Conflict notes that:
She has also published op-eds in Matichon newspaper, 101.com, Opendemocracy.org, and The Conversation Global. Currently, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace is supporting her research exploring issues such as new civic activism and civic networks against democracy in Thailand.
In other words, Janjira writes pleasant things about the Thai opposition and smears anyone supporting the government she herself in her op-eds regularly attacks – and does so under the cover of her academic titles.
Matichon has been owned by billionaire opposition leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit’s family for years. 101.com is openly listed above as a US NED funded platform. And the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace is funded by – according to its own website – convicted financial criminal George Soros’ Open Society Foundation, the British government, NATO, US Pacific Command, and the US State Department itself.
The evidence of US interference in Thailand’s internal political affairs and its involvement in bolstering anti-government groups specifically is overwhelming. And for those still not convinced that there is anything wrong with what the US government through the NED is doing in Thailand – just imagine another country funding similar programs, organizations, and opposition groups inside the US and what Washington’s reaction would be to it.
US Involvement in Every Aspect of Thai Protests is No Coincidence
The United States is a nation that has – since the beginning of 21st century – invaded and occupied multiple nations – murdering the members of sitting governments, replacing them with hand-selected client regimes – and has done so everywhere from Afghanistan and Iraq to Libya and Syria.
The US is also currently involved in arming, training, repairing the weapons of, and assisting in intelligence collection for Saudi Arabia in its war on neighboring Yemen – a conflict the UN itself refers to as the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.
These are all examples of US “hard power” – or direct and indirect military intervention.
The US also wields instruments of “soft power” with the last US Ambassador to Thailand – Glyn Davies – being specifically trained in, “non-military instruments in persuasive, inducement, and coercive strategies” – or in other words the use of movements precisely like the one the US government is funding and backing in Thailand now.
The goal is to pressure or remove the current Thai government – as well as the political order it represents including institutions like the monarchy, military, and courts – and replace it with institutions and political parties that will serve US interests. This specifically is aimed at rolling back growing Thai-Chinese relations.
China is currently Thailand’s largest trade partner, largest foreign investor, largest source of tourism, largest arms provider – replacing the US, and involved in several key infrastructure projects including a high-speed rail link that will better enable the flow of people and goods to and from China.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo just openly declared US involvement in the region is aimed at confronting China. Bloomberg in a recent article titled, “Pompeo Urges Southeast Asia to Cut Ties With ‘Bully’ China Firms,” would note:
U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo called on Southeast Asian countries to review ties with Chinese state-owned enterprises, stepping up pressure on Beijing over territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
“Don’t just speak up, but act,” Pompeo said during a virtual summit with foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations on Thursday. “Reconsider business dealings with the very state-owned companies that bully Asean coastal states in the South China Sea. Don’t let the Chinese Communist Party walk over us and our people.”
Of course – the US isn’t going to just make empty demands. Southeast Asia is more than happy to continue doing business with China and is actively seeking to expand ties year-to-year. US demands will be – and demonstratably are – backed by active measures to pressure or even oust disobedient Southeast Asian governments who refuse to heed US demands that in no way serve the best interests of Asia.
The current Thai political order has repeatedly refused to be dragged into the US confrontation with China over the South China Sea. It has also refused other US demands including those regarding suspected Uyghur terrorists Bangkok would extradite to China instead of allowing them to travel onward to Turkey and Syria as demanded by Washington. Months later a bombing in downtown Bangkok carried out by US NATO-linked Turkish-Uyghur terrorists would kill 20.
Today, US-funded agitators are openly attempting to oust the current government, rewrite Thailand’s constitution, and place into power members of Thailand’s corrupt billionaire-led opposition who have openly declared their intent to roll back Thai-Chinese ties including the threatened cancellation of the Thai-Chinese high-speed railway already under construction and the slashing of Thailand’s military budget to stem Thai-Chinese arms deals.
The US Embassy in Bangkok can lie about facts documented on the very websites of US government-funded organizations behind core Thai protest groups – just like it lied about “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq, “human rights abuses” in places like Libya and Syria where the US sought to militarily intervene, and lies daily about nations like Russia and China.
But people can choose to think for themselves, go to the US NED’s own website, look at documented evidence of the US government funding core protest groups – and ask them why the US Embassy is lying about it – and what Thailand as a nation should do about this foreign interference and the Thais and foreign expats willingly serving as accomplices toward it.