In late November, the US, Canadian and British embassies along with several other European partners as well as the US National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and Amnesty International, organised what they called the “Isaan Human Rights Festival” in northeast Thailand.
US National Endowment for Democracy (NED) funded media front, the “Isaan Record” in its article, “Rare human rights event gathers Isaan communities and foreign diplomats,” claims (our emphasis):
The 8th Annual Isaan Human Rights Festival brought together 17 communities from across the region, activists, scholars, and international and Thai students. Ambassadors from Finland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom were in attendance, as well as political officers from Canada, the European Union and the United States. National Human Rights Commissioner Angkhana Neelapaijit also attend the event.
Hosted by Mahasarakham University’s College of Politics and Governance, the festival opened a rare space to discuss the human rights situation in the Northeast.
While the US-funded media outfit mentioned funding provided by the Germany-based Heinrich Böll Foundation, it failed to mention other sponsors whose logos were clearly visible in media used throughout the event.
Creating Space for Destabilisation and Conflict
The foreign-sponsored “festival” takes place against the backdrop of a currently dormant Thai political crisis. In 2014, the Thai military ousted then Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, sister and publicly admitted proxy of Thaksin Shinawatra, a convicted criminal hiding abroad to evade a jail sentence and who was himself ousted in 2006 in a similar coup.
Since Thaksin Shinawatra’s ouster in 2006, he has led a campaign of terrorism, street violence, armed insurrection and assassinations. This includes riots in 2009 that saw sections of Bangkok lit ablaze and at least two shopkeepers gunned down by looting Shinawatra supporters. The following year, Shinawatra organised up to 300 heavily armed militants who fought for weeks in the streets of Bangkok against the military, leaving nearly 100 dead and culminating in citywide arson.
The most recent coup was precipitated when Shinawatra’s militants began murdering anti-Shinawatra protesters in the street. Armed with assault rifles and grenade launchers, hit-and-run attacks targeted protest camps across Bangkok and even those that sprung up in other provinces. Over 20 would die,
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