UDD pitches riot amnesty by decree

The United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) has called for a blanket amnesty for all people charged with political offences during conflicts between Jan 1, 2007, and Dec 31, 2011.

Deputy Commerce Minister Nattawut Saikuar, who is also a core UDD leader, said yesterday the amnesty should come in the form of an executive decree.

He said this differs significantly from the proposal put forward by the Nitirat group of jurists which wanted to include a chapter on an amnesty and conflict resolution into an amendment to the constitution.

However, both the UDD and Nitirat are proposing the granting of an amnesty to people who have committed politically motivated offences during a certain period of time, said Mr Nattawut.

"No matter whether they are red or yellow shirts, these people are not real criminals, only political victims who deserve to be free," Mr Nattawut said.

On Sunday, the Nitirat Group, whose members are mainly Thammasat University law lecturers, proposed an amnesty that should cover both core protest leaders and rank-and-file protesters, for minor political offences committed after the 2006 coup up until the May 19, 2010, red shirt demonstrations.

Meanwhile, UDD chairwoman Tida Tawornseth, along with 300 red-shirt supporters, yesterday visited 22 red-shirt inmates at Lak Si prison, a special facility for political prisoners.

Mrs Tida read out the UDD-drafted executive amnesty decree in front of the prison.

The draft, which consists of four sections, would cover most of those who have been been charged or sentenced to a jail term for political offences between Jan 1, 2007, and Dec 31, 2011.

The amnesty, however, would not cover people who held decision-making powers or those who directed political activities during this period.

Mrs Tida, joined by other UDD leaders including Weng Tojirakarn, and Korkaew Pikulthong, said they would push the government to adopt the executive decree.

The UDD would submit the proposed decree to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

If passed, the executive decree would apply to most people, regardless of their political colour, who have been charged or convicted of political offences connected with the political conflicts during the stipulated period, the UDD leaders said.

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Writer: Patsara Jikkham
Position: Reporter