Sunday 28 April 2013

Why did Human Rights Watch in Thailand pass my details to the US authorities?

Back in 2011 I had preview access to an as yet unreleased Wikileaks cable that included reference to a Human Rights Watch staff member making possible lese majeste comments.

At that time I had been critical of a number of things HRW had done, including Brad Adams' appalling claims at a meeting at the UK Parliament, but felt I was still sympathetic to their work in Thailand. I therefore privately warned Human Rights Watch about this matter as I felt it may leave their staff member open to possible legal threat.

What I also discovered in that cable was that Human Rights Watch made a statement that indicated they had refused to defend Thai trade unionist, Jittra Kotchadet, against lese majeste charges.

Screen grab of email from HRW admitting they passed my details to US Embassy

Whilst making it very clear that I would not be making any of the contents of the cable public - something that I never did with Wikileaks themselves putting all the cables in the public domain later in 2011 - I asked HRW to explain why they were adopting a public stance of condemning lese majeste but then taking another position in secret.

Despite several emails and phone calls to HRW staff members they never responded and never clarified the discrepancy between their public and private positions.

I was then astonished to find, several months later, that my questions to HRW regarding lese majeste were being circulated by a Bangkok Post journalist after they had received information from a US Embassy staffer that basically amounted to a smear campaign against me.

I contacted HRW's head office in the USA and asked them to explain. In response I received an accusatory, aggressive and threatening phone call from HRW's rather unpleasant legal advisor, Dinah Pokempnor.

Yet even Ms Pokempnor knew I had caught HRW and she sent me a mealy-mouthed and quite pathetic excuse as to why HRW breached all the rules of confidentiality and passed my details to the US Embassy.

Upon being notified by you that unredacted US Embassy cables leaked to Wikileaks mentioned one of our researchers, we contacted the  embassy to ask if we could ascertain the contents of these cables. The embassy asked us how we knew that there were such cables, and we told them you had alerted us.  

 Anyone coming into contact with HRW people in Bangkok, staff members such as Sunai Phasuk, Brad Adams or Phil Robertson,  should be warned - they cannot be trusted and may pass on your details to state agencies and other authorities with links to the Thai military without your knowledge or your permission. 


  1. obviously they're not watching what they should be watching :-P

  2. A sad state of affairs. We have no watchdogs (other than you) watching the so-called watchdogs, like HRW and AI. They are complete toadies here in Thailand!


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