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Thailand’s prime minister is also British. So what ? From the beginning it was clear that Abhisit was born a British citizen, but there was just a question whether he has renounced it. Now he admits he has not renounced it. But Abhisit’s political opponents, the Red Shirts, say his dual citizenship presents a larger threat. They say he’s vulnerable to a trial in the International Criminal Courts for “crimes against humanity” alleged during his government’s crackdown on protesters last year.
AP has the story:
Thailand’s prime minister has an confession to make: He is also British.
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejajjiva publicly acknowledged his dual nationality Thursday for the first time during a debate in Parliament.
Abhisit, 46, automatically holds British citizenship because he was born in Newcastle, to parents from a well-to-do Bangkok family. He would have to specifically renounce it to lose it.
Abhisit’s political foes have highlighted the matter. They claim that as a British citizen, he can be sued in international court over alleged abuses during his administration’s crackdown on anti-government protests last year.
The Nation, of course, gets the story completely wrong. Their story has the headline “PM denies dual nationality”.
At around 13:18 – you can find video of what Abhisit said by going to this site,* choose NBT and then make sure that it is for February 24, then move the video counter to just after 13:17. Below is a summarized version of what Abhisit said – all words in quotes are actual translated quotes:
“I’ve never hidden anything. I was born in England. I was born in Newcastle. I didn’t hide my support of the [Newcastle] football team either. I was born in England. My parents are Thai…[then asks the questioner, did you report your own birth?] … I was born in a hospital in England”. The hospitals then do what they do and report the birth. You are not curious whether I hold Thai citizenship, but “you’re curious if I hold British citizenship, I’ll answer you directly that”.
“You ask have I ever formally renounced my British citizenship, I admit I have not renounced my British citizenship because it is understood legally that if the nationality laws are conflicting, the Thai law must be used”.
When I studied in England, I didn’t take advantage of being a British citizen and I declared myself a foreign student and my parents paid the tuition costs. These days, every time I travel to England, I have to apply for a visa. The intention is clear that I intend to hold Thai nationality.
But if you ask me if this is regarded as a dual citizenship issue, that’s a legal matter. If you want me to renounce it, I can, but all of what you’ve done today about my British citizenship, it’s not that you’re concerned about Thailand’s interest. You only want one thing: how Robert Amsterdam can drag the issue to the international court. That’s it. It’s not my side that has a problem in protecting Thailand’s interest.”
“My intention is clear. I was born in England but I consider myself a Thai. I studied in England but I intended to return to work and live in Thailand, to work for the country’s interest and didn’t think of anything else.” I have also asked the EC about dual citizenship and they say there is no problem, I just have to be a Thai citizen.
BP: Abhisit then launches into an attack on other people who hold citizenship of another country and use their citizenship contrary – he is clearly referring to Thaksin here.
Read more here:
Thai PM admits he is a British citizen
Abhisit’s political opponents, the Red Shirts, say his dual citizenship presents a larger threat. They say he’s vulnerable to a trial in the International Criminal Courts for “crimes against humanity” alleged during his government’s crackdown on protesters last year. (The U.K. has ratified a treaty leaving its citizens eligible for trial.
Thaksin’s and Red Shirts lawyer thinks he has got a case
“For the past 24 days, the Prime Minister has refused to be honest regarding his UK citizenship, and instead has obfuscated with irrelevant excuses regarding student fees and visas,”
said Robert Amsterdam, partner at Amsterdam & Peroff LLP, representing the Red Shirts. “Prime Minister Abhisit must understand that this is no laughing matter, and no time to joke about which British football teams he supports when his government has failed to investigate, prosecute, or even sanction any officials responsible for these deaths.”
In the weeks following the Jan. 31 filing of the application before the ICC, spokespersons for the prime minister, Buranat Samutrak and Thepthai Senpong, repeatedly issued public denials, claiming that Abhisit did not hold British citizenship. Numerous defamatory statements attacking Mr. Amsterdam and Red Shirt leaders such as Jatuporn Prompan over the Abhisit’s citizenship status were also circulated in the media.
This abrupt reversal of the government’s position illustrates an important point, said Amsterdam. “If they can’t tell the truth about just one small fact, than how can any Thai person reasonably expect them to administer justice?”
Amsterdam also drew comparisons between this case and the violence used against demonstrators across the world, including recent protests in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, and Libya.
“This is in many ways a landmark case built upon strong evidence, representing an opportunity for the international community to show that dictators and authoritarian leaders will be held accountable for using violence against their own people. Given the abhorrent repressions and high death tolls in the current struggle for democracy across the Arab world, we need to send this message now more than ever.”
What is crimes against humanity
One of the three categories of crime used by the International Military Tribunal (IMT, the court that conducted the Nuremberg Trials) as a basis for convicting war criminals. Besides crimes against humanity, the IMT was authorized to convict Nazis and Nazi collaborators of war crimes and crimes against peace.
According to the IMT’s legal code, the definition of crimes against humanity is
“murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, and other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population, before or during the war; or persecution on political, racial, or religious grounds in execution of or in connection with any crime within the jurisdiction of the tribunal, whether or not in violation of the domestic law of the country where perpetrated.”
This last clause means that the court could only convict a person of crimes against humanity if those crimes were committed in conjunction with war crimes or crimes against peace. In addition, crimes against humanity, as opposed to war crimes, were also defined as criminal acts committed against a population at any time—during times of war, and during times of peace. Most, but not all, of the victims of the Nazi crimes against humanity were Jews.
This is becoming a real problem for Apisit, and I think it may only get worse for him in the near future. I can’t imagine how he would deal with a potential divorce, since it’s now known that he’s technically both a British and Thai citizen. I guess he would be subject to facing the divorce law in Thailand rather than UK divorce law, unless he was married in England (which I doubt). I doubt he would be facing divorce anytime soon, but who knows. I think the Red Shirts are using the classic tactics of their opponents in the PAD to oust the prime minister. If you recall, his predecessor (who was elected, unlike Apisit) was forced to resign on very shaky grounds that he hosted a cooking show! I suppose the Red Shirts’ claim that Apisit resign based on his dual citizenship has sightly better legitimacy.
How can the PM give his loyalty to two different monarchs? Either he is loyal to the Queen of England or the King of Thailand. He must declare his choice amd legally denounce the other. If not he is an embarrassment to all Thais or British. Make a choice. Unless he does not care for Thailand and the King. Then he will say nothing.
Don’t be ridiculous! How many British people are loyal to the Queen?? I’m English and I’m certainly not. People living in Britain are not affected by the royal family and do not any responsibility to them.
Lucy, you don’t see the sarcasm in Robert’s comment I think. The Thai king is worshiped by many Thais, almost like a saint. But over the past few years the Lese Majeste laws in Thailand have come under international scrutiny. I think Robert’s comment is amusing.