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Tyrell Haberkorn, ‘Justice After Dictatorship in Thailand’
September 20, 2019 at 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
On May 22, 2014, a military junta calling itself the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) launched a coup and ousted the elected government in Thailand. On July 16, 2019, the NCPO formally ceased to exist when a new civilian cabinet was sworn in following a national election. When the NCPO launched the coup, they promised to restore the rule of law after ten years of political conflict, but their regime instead undermined its most fundamental principles. The NCPO employed the arbitrary, disproportionate and politicized use of law to violate the rights of civilians, facilitate extrajudicial violence and guarantee impunity for the coup and subsequent crimes. Justice, long tenuous in Thailand, disappeared entirely for those deemed to be enemies of the junta.
This lecture takes this moment of transition as a point of departure at which to reflect on how the past five years of dictatorship might be redressed and justice forged. The urgency of justice is framed with an initial accounting of the laws broken and principles of human rights violated by the NCPO. Then, inspired by feminist court decision rewriting projects, the lecture revisits a series of cases in which the court adjudicated in favor of the coup and the abrogation of the people’s rights. Plotting alternative logics, interpretation of evidence and conclusions is a way to at once imagine what justice might look like and assess the depth of legal, social and political transformation necessary to make it real.
Tryell Haberkorn is associate professor of Southeast Asian studies at the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research focus is on state violence and dissident cultural politics in Thailand from the end of the absolute monarchy in 1932 until the present.