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Asean Affairs  6 December 2010

The Thaksin saga continues

By  David Swartzentruber
AseanAffairs     6 December 2010

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The most interesting story in Asean today is the invitation for fugitive former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to travel to the United States to testify before the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe about human rights abuses in Thailand

The abuses center the committee is interested in most, media report, are not the red-shirt protests that ended on May 19 in Bangkok but the ongoing separatist insurgency in the southern provinces of Thailand.

Media report that the site of the testimony would be in Washington State D.C. and that Thaksin is interested in making a presentation. Other representations would also come from a representative of the Thai government and the Brussels-based International Crisis Group.

The invitation letter was sent to Thaksin’s Washington D.C. address as Mr. Thaksin has no address in Thailand being a fugitive from justice and his private jet carries him to many places. The last report was South Africa.

If were one to place a bet now, it is unlikely that Thaksin will show up on US shores. Thailand recently extradited alleged international Russian arms dealer, Viktor Bout, to the United States and Thailand and the United States have an extradition treaty in place.

In the world of diplomacy, protocol and “tit for tat” normally prevail. The United States now has its relations with Asean as a priority and it is unlikely that they would grant Mr. Thaksin a “free pass” into the United States. He has been convicted to a two-year prison sentence for corruption and there are four or five other cases pending against him, which, if he was found guilty would lengthen his prison term.

Plus, red shirt leaders have stated he was the “boss” behind the red shirt protest and based on those public statements additional charges, such as terrorism (which carries the death sentence) could await him if he returns to Thailand.

Paul A. Ebeling, Jnr

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