Lets Go Everywhere


There’s Nothing Nice About Martial Law

Thai leaders to relax martial law

BBC

Thailand’s military chiefs have recommended that martial law imposed after the 19 September coup be lifted in parts of the country.

The decision would affect about 40 of Thailand’s 76 provinces, coup leader and army commander General Sonthi Boonyaratglin said.

Martial law has been in place since the bloodless coup, which ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

The decision will now be submitted to the cabinet for approval.

“Everybody wants to see peace and order in our country and the lifting of martial law will have a positive political and psychological impact,” Gen Sonthi said.

But he said the measures will remain in place in the troubled southern provinces, and in areas of the north and northeast, where support for Mr Thaksin is strongest.

Gen Sonthi said Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont could decided what to do about Bangkok.

“If we lift martial law and something happens, the prime minister will be held primarily responsible,” the French news agency AFP quoted him as saying.

Few protests

The new government has struggled to gain international recognition, not least because of its refusal to end the martial law, says the BBC’s Jonathan Head in Bangkok.

But in practice few Thais have felt the restrictions, which have been applied sparingly.

Soldiers are still posted outside television stations in Bangkok, around 300 radio stations in rural areas have been forced to stop broadcasting, and political parties have been banned from holding large-scale meetings.

There have been relatively few protests against martial law – in fact the more widely-heard complaint against the new government is over its failure to come up with a convincing case against the former prime minister for corruption or abuses of power.

Still, the fact that martial law will remain in place in pro-Thaksin areas suggests the military is still nervous about a possible come-back by the former prime minister, who has been touring a number of nearby countries recently in a blaze of media publicity, our correspondent adds.

Monks & Tanks

It’s about time! The bad news is that Bangkok is not included.
That means it’s still illegal to gather in groups of 5 or more for a political purpose, hold rallies or broadcast news independently. However, it is legal to detain people without a warrant and without having to press charges. Hmmm.

The atmosphere is so friendly and the people so warm-hearted it’s easy to forget that the Thai government has been capable of some nasty things. Thaksin’s war against drug dealers (how many thousands dead at the hands of trigger happy police?), the southern insurgency and response (dozens suffocating in a truck for the crime of attending a rally while Muslim), historic brutal military suppression, and of course, at least one secret CIA prison — possibly for extracting information via torture.

Of course, no government is perfect. They all have blood on their hands and policies that shame their citizens, except perhaps Switzerland. I love the jai dee of the Thai people so much, and for this reason hope that martial law is entirely lifted and some form of representative democracy is restored as soon as possible.

Since I mentioned jai dee, a translation of which you can find further down somewhere, I’d like to add I noticed a picture on the Thai newswire of a demostration held in Bangkok not long ago. The demostration was against the death penalty (a brutal and frequently used punishment here) and there were six or seven young people dressed in black holding signs that called for an end to the practice. I was so impressed to see it… not only because these people were defying martial law and protesting a political policy… they were also opening eyes about an issue that gets very little play in Asia. The death penalty is not often discussed or thought about, so it’s great to see people questioning its value and usefulness. I’ll track down the photo tomorrow and post it here.

Good work protest kids, keep it up!!

***UPDATE Two Thai men who murdered tourist Katherine Horton have had their death sentences commuted to life in jail.

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US citizens on trial in Saigon

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US citizens on trial in Vietnam

BBC

Vietnamese prosecutors have accused the group of terrorism

Three US citizens and four Vietnamese have gone on trial in Vietnam charged with terrorism. They are accused of attempting to set up illegal transmitters to make anti-communist radio broadcasts inside the country.

Correspondents says the case may complicate ties with the US ahead of President George W Bush’s visit next week and a Congressional vote on trade. The trial in Ho Chi Minh City is expected to last no more than a day.

All of the seven defendants are of Vietnamese origin, but three – Nguyen Thuong Cuc, also known as Cuc Foshee, Huynh Bich Lien and Le Van Binh – also have US citizenship.

Local press reports have linked them to a California-based anti-communist organisation called the Government of Free Vietnam. They are alleged to have brought transmitters and other equipment into Vietnam from neighbouring Cambodia.

They were hoping to take over local radio stations and broadcast anti-government radio messages, according to the BBC correspondent in Hanoi, Bill Hayton.

The case is being heard exactly a week before President Bush arrives in Vietnam to attend the annual Asia-Pacific summit (Apec). It may also complicate scheduled votes in the US Congress intended to permanently normalise trade relations between America and Vietnam, our correspondent says.

Senator Mel Martinez from Florida, the home state of one of the accused, has threatened to block the bill because of the case. That would be an embarrassment to both governments, which have heralded the bill as symbolising their new partnership.

If found guilty of terrorism, the accused could face sentences ranging from 12 years in jail to the death penalty. The Vietnamese government is currently trying to extradite a man it calls the leader of the plot, Nguyen Huu Chanh, from South Korea.

An earlier attempt failed. Mr Chanh was one of the founders of the Government of Free Vietnam.

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Government of Free Viet Nam website (probably not accessible from within Viet Nam, but get the scoop here: Wiki article)

The Government of Free Vietnam is an anti-communist paramilitary and political organization that was established on April 30, 1995, by its founder Nguyen Hoang Dan. Its headquarters are in Garden Grove, California. The organization’s goal is to remove the government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, either politically or militarily.

The Government of Free Vietnam claims 6,000 members and 100,000 supporters who were trained in secret camp locations along the Vietnamese/Cambodian border. They also claim 75 chapters in Asia, Australia, and Europe. Although the GFVN prides itself on its widespread support, many argue that the GFVN never received a true mandate to represent the Vietnamese diaspora.

They have a base of operations in KC-702, a secret base along the border between Vietnam and Cambodia.

Hoa Binh



Pump up The Volume

Speaking of the death penalty, here’s an article from, again, the Guardian, about 7 activists in Viet Nam who may just face the firing squad for agitating against the government.  All this comes just ahead of a major APEC – Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation – Summit to be held in Hanoi later this month, to be attended by Senior Bush, as well as Viet Nam’s official entry into the WTO.

Vietnam Puts 3 U.S. Citizens on Trial

Tuesday November 7, 2006 3:01 AM

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) – Three U.S. citizens are among seven people who will go on trial in Vietnam this week over an alleged attempt to take over state radio stations to call for an uprising against the communist government, a court official said Tuesday.

The seven will stand trial Friday at the People’s Court in Ho Chi Minh City on charges of terrorism, an offense that carries possible sentences ranging from 12 years in prison to death by firing squad, the court’s chief judge Bui Hoang Danh said.

The defendants, who were arrested in September of last year, include three U.S. citizens of ethnic Vietnamese descent: Thuong Nguyen “Cuc” Foshee of Orlando, Fla.; Le Van Binh “Phu” of Tampa, Fla, and Huynh Bich Lien “Linda” of San Gabriel, Calif.

Three Vietnamese nationals from southern An Giang province and a Vietnamese national who is a resident of the U.S. will also be tried, Danh said.

He said the trial would last one day.

The trial comes just before Hanoi is set to host the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit later this month. President Bush is scheduled to attend the Nov. 18-19 meeting.

A one-day trial, eh? Yeah, that’ll be fair. The kangaroo courts they operate here are hardwired for conviction. Just ask Gary Glitter!!

As for Viet Nam’s WTO accession… I can’t help but feel like the country is signing away its soul, perhaps without even really knowing what it’s getting into. With a population of 84 million people, 80% of whom are farmers, they just cannot handle influxes of cheap foreign foods and goods. China will swamp the market, and what then for the farmers? Off to the factories to be worked like dogs?

Here are some pics from Vietnamese executions. The government is considering doing away with the firing squad in favour of lethal injection, apparently because some of the soldiers doing the firing get nervous and miss their target.

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Saddam To Hang
November 6, 2006, 5:59 pm
Filed under: Death Penalty, Iraq, News and politics, politics, protests, Saddam, vietnam

Abolish the death penalty, right now, everywhere.

So, you know how I feel about the death penalty. I don’t think it is appropriate in any case and I don’t condone it for anyone, ever, period. I have been deeply committed to this issue for a number of years.

That being said, were anyone a good fit for execution it would be Saddam, a tyrant unmatched in his cruelty. Sadly though, I’m guessing what will be remembered most internationally will be the occupation and veritable destruction of Iraq by US forces on patently false pretenses. In this way, Saddam’s crimes fall by the wayside and America emerges ever further into the dark hole it has been sinking into. Executing Saddam will only fuel Sunni insurgents and inflame the Arab world. It will inflame me and I’m not even from there! Most importantly though, it will show that America can occupy a country for no reason, put its dictator on trial, refuse to protect his lawyers (which leads to many of them being assassinated), change judges when it doesn’t like the proceedings, and then execute him in the name of “justice”.

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Some fun facts from Amnesty International…

Abolitionist and Retentionist Countries

More than half the countries in the world have now abolished the death penalty in law or practice. The numbers are as follows:

 

Latest news

Abolitionist for all crimes: 88
Abolitionist for ordinary crimes only: 11
Abolitionist in practice: 30

Total abolitionist in law or practice: 129
Retentionist: 68

At the end is a list of countries which have abolished the death penalty since 1976. It shows that in the past decade, an average of over three countries a year have abolished the death penalty in law or, having done so for ordinary offences, have gone on to abolish it for all offences.

1. Abolitionist for all crimes

Countries whose laws do not provide for the death penalty for any crime

ANDORRA, ANGOLA, ARMENIA, AUSTRALIA, AUSTRIA, AZERBAIJAN, BELGIUM, BHUTAN, BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA, BULGARIA, CAMBODIA, CANADA, CAPE VERDE, COLOMBIA, COSTA RICA, COTE D’IVOIRE, CROATIA, CYPRUS, CZECH REPUBLIC, DENMARK, DJIBOUTI, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, ECUADOR, ESTONIA, FINLAND, FRANCE, GEORGIA, GERMANY,GREECE, GUINEA-BISSAU, HAITI, HONDURAS, HUNGARY, ICELAND, IRELAND, ITALY, KIRIBATI, LIBERIA, LIECHTENSTEIN, LITHUANIA, LUXEMBOURG, MACEDONIA (former Yugoslav Republic), MALTA, MARSHALL ISLANDS, MAURITIUS, MEXICO, MICRONESIA (Federated States), MOLDOVA, MONACO, MONTENEGRO, MOZAMBIQUE, NAMIBIA, NEPAL, NETHERLANDS, NEW ZEALAND, NICARAGUA, NIUE, NORWAY, PALAU, PANAMA, PARAGUAY, PHILIPPINES, POLAND, PORTUGAL, ROMANIA, SAMOA, SAN MARINO, SAO TOME AND PRINCIPE, SENEGAL, SERBIA, SEYCHELLES, SLOVAK REPUBLIC, SLOVENIA, SOLOMON ISLANDS, SOUTH AFRICA, SPAIN, SWEDEN, SWITZERLAND, TIMOR-LESTE, TURKEY, TURKMENISTAN, TUVALU, UKRAINE, UNITED KINGDOM, URUGUAY, VANUATU, VATICAN CITY STATE, VENEZUELA

4. Retentionist

Countries and territories which retain the death penalty for ordinary crimes

AFGHANISTAN, ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA, BAHAMAS, BANGLADESH, BARBADOS, BELARUS, BELIZE, BOTSWANA, BURUNDI, CAMEROON, CHAD, CHINA, COMOROS, CONGO (Democratic Republic), CUBA, DOMINICA, EGYPT, EQUATORIAL GUINEA, ERITREA, ETHIOPIA, GUATEMALA, GUINEA, GUYANA, INDIA, INDONESIA, IRAN, IRAQ, JAMAICA, JAPAN, JORDAN, KAZAKSTAN, KOREA (North), KOREA (South), KUWAIT, LAOS, LEBANON, LESOTHO, LIBYA, MALAYSIA, MONGOLIA, NIGERIA, OMAN, PAKISTAN, PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY, QATAR, RWANDA, SAINT CHRISTOPHER & NEVIS, SAINT LUCIA, SAINT VINCENT & GRENADINES, SAUDI ARABIA, SIERRA LEONE, SINGAPORE, SOMALIA, SUDAN, SYRIA, TAIWAN, TAJIKISTAN, TANZANIA, THAILAND, TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO, UGANDA, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, UZBEKISTAN, VIET NAM, YEMEN, ZAMBIA, ZIMBABWE

Countries which have abolished the death penalty since 1976

1976: PORTUGAL abolished the death penalty for all crimes.

1978: DENMARK abolished the death penalty for all crimes.

1979: LUXEMBOURG, NICARAGUA and NORWAY abolished the death penalty for all crimes. BRAZIL, FIJI and PERU abolished the death penalty for ordinary crimes.

1981: FRANCE and CAPE VERDE abolished the death penalty for all crimes.

1982: The NETHERLANDS abolished the death penalty for all crimes.

1983: CYPRUS and EL SALVADOR abolished the death penalty for ordinary crimes.

1984: ARGENTINA abolished the death penalty for ordinary crimes.

1985: AUSTRALIA abolished the death penalty for all crimes.

1987: HAITI, LIECHTENSTEIN and the GERMAN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC (1) abolished the death penalty for all crimes.

1989: CAMBODIA, NEW ZEALAND, ROMANIA and SLOVENIA (2) abolished the death penalty for all crimes.

1990: ANDORRA, CROATIA (2), the CZECH AND SLOVAK FEDERAL REPUBLIC (3), HUNGARY, IRELAND, MOZAMBIQUE, NAMIBIA and SAO TOMÉ AND PRíNCIPE abolished the death penalty for all crimes.

1992: ANGOLA, PARAGUAY and SWITZERLAND abolished the death penalty for all crimes.

1993: GUINEA-BISSAU, HONG KONG (4) and SEYCHELLES abolished the death penalty for all crimes.

1994: ITALY abolished the death penalty for all crimes.

1995: DJIBOUTI, MAURITIUS, MOLDOVA and SPAIN abolished the death penalty for all crimes.

1996: BELGIUM abolished the death penalty for all crimes.

1997: GEORGIA, NEPAL, POLAND and SOUTH AFRICA abolished the death penalty for all crimes. BOLIVIA abolished the death penalty for ordinary crimes.

1998: AZERBAIJAN, BULGARIA, CANADA, ESTONIA, LITHUANIA and the UNITED KINGDOM abolished the death penalty for all crimes.

1999: EAST TIMOR, TURKMENISTAN and UKRAINE abolished the death penalty for all crimes. LATVIA (5) abolished the death penalty for ordinary crimes.

2000 : COTE D’IVOIRE and MALTA abolished the death penalty for all crimes. ALBANIA (6) abolished the death penalty for ordinary crimes.

2001: BOSNIA-HEZEGOVINA (7) abolished the death penalty for all crimes. CHILE abolished the death penalty for ordinary crimes.

2002: CYPRUS and YUGOSLAVIA (now two states SERBIA and MONTENEGRO (9)) abolished the death penalty for all crimes.

2003: ARMENIA abolished the death penalty for all crimes.

2004: BHUTAN, GREECE, SAMOA, SENEGAL and TURKEY abolished the death penalty for all crimes.

2005: LIBERIA (8) and MEXICO abolished the death penalty for all crimes.

2006: PHILIPPINES abolished the death penalty for all crimes.

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