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Thailand considers amnesty bill

April 19, 2013 at 12:11 AM   |   Comments

BANGKOK, April 19 (UPI) -- Thai Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung will propose a bill to grant amnesty to all prisoners charged with committing politically motivated violence.

Yubamrung plans to present his bill during the next parliamentary session, which begins in August, a report in the Bangkok Post said.

If passed by Parliament, all prisoners involved in political violence since the military coup Sept. 19, 2006, that toppled the Thaksin Shinawatra government would be freed, the Post report said.

"I will propose the bill myself," Yubamrung said. "It definitely won't be against the rule of law."

The amnesty is to help heal divisions within Thailand, Yubamrung said.

He also said Thaksin, a former prime minister living in self-imposed exile mostly in Dubai, likely would benefit from the amnesty but It would be up to him to return to Thailand.

After Parliament goes into recess Sunday, Yubamrung plans to tour the northeast to explain the measure.

Thaksin, 62, remains a controversial figure within Thai politics after fleeing two years after the 2006 military coup.

He reportedly took part via Skype in a private debate over the proposed bill with members of the ruling Pheu Thai Party -- the party of his sister, Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

Soon after the junta took power Thaksin was sentenced to two years in prison for tax fraud but fled rather than serve the sentence, leaving an estimated $2 billion in frozen assets.

His critics say he wields considerable political influence through his sister, who became prime minister after a hotly contested national election in July 2011. Her Pheu Thai Party defeated the incumbent Democrat Party led by Abhisit Vejjajiva who resigned shortly after the election.

Yingluck gained a master's degree in political science from Kentucky State University in 1990 and was a successful businesswoman within the family businesses before becoming Thailand's first female prime minister.

Since Thaksin left the country, his supporters have clashed with police many times, most notably in April and May 2010.

More than 90 people died and more around 2,000 people were believed injured during the clashes with police and security forces when protesters blocked Bangkok's central old town streets for several weeks.

The fighting took place between security forces and supporters of Thaksin -- called Red Shirts -- as well as those of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship.

The Red Shirts and their UFDD supporters were demanding the resignation of Abhisit and the reinstatement of Thaksin who often is credited with improving the financial situation of the poor, many of whom traveled into Bangkok to swell the ranks of the Red Shirts.

Supporters of Abhisit are called Yellow Shirts.

But the demonstrations turned violent as the army eventually moved in to clear the streets.

The two-month extent and high number of deaths in the 2010 riots forced the government to set up a Truth for Reconciliation Commission.

© 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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