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Suthep clarifies PDRC's intentions in letter to Obama; Noppadon counters his claims

People's Democratic Reform Committee secretary-general Suthep Thaugsuban has sent a letter to US President Barack Obama, affirming that the PDRC campaign to fight a "corrupt" and "dictatorial" regime would be non-violent.

In Suthep's letter to Obama, he said the PDRC was a pro-democracy movement. The letter was written in response to questions from the international community, he said.

In the letter, Suthep alleged that the Yingluck government had obtained power by violating democratic principles, including buying votes and manipulating the electoral system.

"Please let me assure you that the PDRC is not conducting an anti-democratic uprising. In fact, the PDRC is a pro-democracy movement intent on removing the dictatorial regime led by Yingluck Shinawatra, who has been empowered through and directed by her elder brother, Thaksin Shinawatra," Suthep wrote.

"While both Thaksin and Yingluck were both elected by the people of Thailand, both their elections and their governance represent the gravest of violations of democratic principles - including vote buying and electoral manipulation by the state - and over the past several months, millions of people representing the whole of Thailand have risen up to object," he wrote.

"The PDRC strategy is based on non-violent civil disobedience. While many of Thaksin's supporters have objected strenuously to our use of civil disobedience, please let me remind you that throughout the world, people have claimed their rightful independence, received recognition of civil rights, fought apartheid, and defeated Communism through this same civil disobedience. I will argue that Thai citizens are morally responsible to rise up and demand removal of both Yingluck and the influence of Thaksin, then define and implement the reform necessary to ensure that the Kingdom of Thailand remains free from unjust and corrupt leaders in the future. Most importantly, a reform that will bring about free and fair elections and a truly representative government," Suthep wrote.

Noppadon Pattama, legal adviser to former PM Thaksin Shinawatra, said yesterday he had sent an open letter to US President Barack Obama, countering the claims made by PDRC chief Suthep against the Yingluck administration in his letter to the US president.

Noppadon posted the Thai language version of the letter in his Facebook. The letter dismissed Suthep's allegations that the Yingluck government was dictatorial and that the Shinawatra family ran the country with oppression, neglecting human rights. The letter denied that the government came to power through vote-buying and accused Suthep of leading an illegal and violent protest, not a form of civil obedience as claimed.

The letter dismissed Suthep's claim of campaigning for reforms before election as merely an attempt to rise to power without being elected. The letter said the political party associated with Suthep had lost in every general election.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, aka UN Women, issued a statement calling for more equality and respect of women, as threats and abusive language towards them have been prevalent during the Thai political conflict.

UN Women's statement cited increasing political participation of women in Thailand. However, the agency still called for changes in the conduct of men and women to promote equality.

"In Thailand as elsewhere, women's participation in political processes and leadership remains at a low level. This is caused in part by discriminatory practices and political cultures that devalue women's worth and impede their contributions. Many women are reluctant to enter political life because they anticipate sexual harassment and gender-based abuse and disrespect," the statement said.

"In the context of Thailand's current political situation, it is a serious concern to learn of the use of abusive language against women to score points for a political agenda. Commentary and images which are sexually abusive and which demean women on the basis of their sex and gender roles should not be tolerated or encouraged. Thailand has made much progress both in its laws and policies to secure the empowerment of women and gender equality. This progress will be expanded when more women engage with and influence the political and governance processes in both the public and private spheres. For this to happen, we need an environment which is respectful of the rights and dignity of all," said the statement.


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