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No One Should Be Above the Law,… Even Former Prime Ministers

Saturday, December 8th, 2012

Bangkok

Opinion & Analysis by Burin Kantabutra

I have no problem with the DSI charging Abhisit Vejjajiva and Suthep Thaugsuban for authorising the killing of anti-government protesters during the 2010 unrest, especially since it filed 213 legal cases against the red shirts and arrested and prosecuted 295 UDD members. No one is above the law.

But I am concerned that Section 70 of our Criminal Code states that those who act on the orders of their commanders are protected from prosecution. That’s the so-called Nuremburg Defence, used by the Nazis in their war crimes trials to justify, among other things, the murder of millions of Jews. As Martin Luther King, Jr noted, ”We should never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was ‘legal’ and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was ‘illegal’.”

Or, as Admiral Mike Mullen, former chairman, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said, ”Few things are more damaging to our democracy than a military officer who doesn’t have the moral courage to stand up for what’s right or the moral fiber to step aside when circumstances dictate.”

All must be accountable for their acts, even if done under orders – although the degree of culpability is lessened by that fact.

Even the lowest ranking soldier must have a sense of right and wrong, and not just be an unthinking,unfeeling inhuman drone or robot.

Thus, the soldiers who used excessive firepower against misidentified non-combatant civilians, murdering four Muslims at Nong Chik and wounding others, those who used excessive force at the Krue Se Mosque massacre, or if in the future, those who follow their commanders and stage a violent coup d’etats, must all be brought to justice along with their commanders- even if that person is the army chief, or even, the prime minister.

BURIN KANTABUTRA


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