Friday, March 9, 2012

Payouts get court nod Dems fail to halt compo plan as hundreds apply

The Administrative Court yesterday rejected a Democrat Party-led bid to immediately halt the government's compensation scheme for political protesters.
Sirisopa Maiprasert shows apicture of her late father Boonchan at RajvithiHomefor Girls, where she registered yesterday for a compensation schemefor victims of political violence.Her father died on April 10, 2010, during clashes between red shirt supporters and security forces. APICHART JINAKUL
The court's decision came as victims of colour-coded political violence and relatives packed Bangkok's Rajvithi Home for Girls on the first day of registration.
The court said it had decided not to issue an injunction immediately. It will decide whether to take up the case after the March 6 cabinet resolution on the 2 billion baht scheme for victims of political violence from 2005 to 2010 is supplied to the court by the cabinet secretary-general.
Democrat MP for Rayong Sathit Pitutecha and two other plaintiffs, Somchai Kerdrungruang and Treesit Sriviwan, yesterday lodged a complaint with the court seeking the injunction.
They want the cabinet resolution to be revoked, arguing that Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and the cabinet must set criteria to give equal and fair compensation to victims of all violence caused by state authorities.
Mr Somchai is an uncle of Nong Fluke, or Chakkraphan Srisa-ard, who was killed when he was nine in a drug operation by police on Feb 23, 2003. Mr Treesit was a victim of the Black May tragedy in 1992.
At Rajvithi Home for Girls, claimants lined up to submit their paperwork as soon as the doors opened. Within the first hour, more than 200 forms and queue cards were handed out. Claims are limited to 500 a day.
Claimants and supporters included those allied with the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship and its rival, the People's Alliance for Democracy.
Among them was Payao Akkahad, the mother of volunteer nurse Kamolkaed Akkahad, who was found shot dead at Wat Pathum Wanaram during the crackdown on red shirt protests on May 19, 2010. She was there to give support to other red shirt families and said she will submit a claim later.
"I'm here to see my brothers and sisters. They need to be patient and don't have to worry any more," Mrs Payao said.
"Compensation payments will help to some degree. At least it will relieve some anger and bitterness of the victims and their relatives. However, at the end of the day, the truth must be revealed before reconciliation can truly happen."
Rabiab Chatthay, 46, whose husband Kanung was shot dead at Ratchadamnoen Avenue on April 10, 2010, said life has been difficult without her husband as she has had to shoulder all responsibility.
The payment will help pay for her 15-year-old son's education as well as the family's expenses.
"No money, no matter how much, would ever be enough or appropriate for a life lost," she said.
While most claimants were victims from the 2010 protests, yellow shirt victims from the Oct 7, 2008, rally to block parliament were also present.
Santi Poodprau, 35, who was injured by tear gas and beaten by riot police during a rally at parliament, believed the compensation would lead to reconciliation.
"I felt abandoned by the people I was fighting for. There was no one to help me when I was injured. I'm not sure how fair the scheme will turn out to be but this is a very good start for reconciliation," Mr Santi said.
Paiboon Intharo, 47, who accompanied Mr Santi and himself suffers from the effects of tear gas and shrapnel wounds from the clashes in 2008, did not have the same optimism.
"I'm afraid this will become a blueprint for future protesters to stage violent clashes to receive compensation. Reconciliation is not likely to happen while the government is still trying to push sensitive subjects like constitutional amendments."
He suggested the government look for the real sources of the conflict and try to prevent it.
The registration office is open from 8.30am to 4pm on weekdays. Late claims can be submitted to the Department of Social Development and Welfare. A subcommittee will confirm claimants' eligibility and review the evidence before approving claims.
A total of 2,369 victims already accounted for from events between 2008 and 2010 should have no problem securing their approval but victims from 2005 to 2007 will have to go through a more rigorous verification process.