Academics want public to choose pardons

Wrongdoers seeking an amnesty should apologise and people from all walks of life should have a role in deciding who should be granted the pardons, a group of scholars has demanded.

An amnesty law by itself will not end the political conflicts that have plagued Thailand since the 2006 coup, they said.

Political offenders, including protest leaders, their supporters and the authorities must express regret for the mayhem they have caused and make a solemn promise that such events will not recur.

A sincere apology is a crucial step to healing the deep rivalry between pro- and anti-Thaksin groups, whose demonstrations and subsequent state crackdowns have led to violence and tragedy, they said.

"So far no one has admitted to wrongdoing and apologised for what happened," Gothom Arya, director of Mahidol University's Research Centre for Peace Building, told a seminar held at Thammasat University yesterday.

The seminar was organised to discuss the amnesty bills.

Politicians tend to act only in their own interest and avoid situations that may put them in a bad light, such as admitting they contributed to the political violence, National Human Rights Commissioner Nirand Pitakwatchara said.

He said politicians should not be allowed to conceive and enact laws to absolve the wrongdoers by themselves.

"The forgiveness must come from society, not the politicians," Mr Nirand insisted.

Amnesty proposals have been made by the Independent Committee for Promotion of the Rule of Law chairman Ukrit Mongkolnavin and by law lecturers of the Nitirat group.

Another six versions have been initiated by Pheu Thai MPs and Matubhum Party leader Gen Sonthi Boonyaratglin, who pushed for an amnesty in the guise of a national reconciliation bill.

Gen Sonthi led the coup to topple the Thaksin Shinawatra administration on Sept 19, 2006.

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Writer: Manop Thip-Osod
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