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Sisters Jill, Cathy, Lisa and Jenny: Taking a stand against modern genocide

Sisters Ask Good Navies to Beat Genocide

Saturday, January 4, 2014
PHUKET: Four sisters of a Phuket journalist facing criminal defamation charges laid by the Royal Thai Navy have written an open letter to Navy chiefs in Australia, the US, Britain and New Zealand, seeking sanctions against Thailand.

The Australian sisters call on the Navy chiefs to ''suspend all military cooperation with Thailand until such time as this action against free speech and democracy is halted.''

The women, Jenny Braddy, Cathy Schmierer, Jill Morison and Lisa Kovaleff, noted that their father, John Morison, fought in World War II to help bring an end to genocide, yet the Rohingya were now being subjected to genocide in Burma without the Royal Thai Navy intervening.

The women's brother, Alan Morison, edits the Phuketwan online news magazine. He and his Thai colleague, Chutima Sidasathian, have been charged with bringing the Royal Thai Navy into disrepute and an offence under the onerous Computer Crimes Act.

The pair face up to seven years in jail but have said they will go to prison rather than seek bail unless the Royal Thai Navy withdraws the ''foolish and unjust'' charges relating to publication of a single paragraph from the Reuters news agency in July.

''It's understood in all democracies that no military should be beyond criticism,'' the women write in their letter to the Navy chiefs of Australia, the US, Britain and New Zealand.

The United Nations human rights chief, Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists and several other international rights organisations have issued statements calling on the Royal Thai Navy to drop the charges.

Phuket police say similar charges are also being pursued against Reuters and the two journalists who wrote the agency's special report on the Rohingya boatpeople.

An Australian embassy official said on Friday that a police officer investigating the matter told her that the Phuketwan journalists are likely to face court in March or April. The journalists were originally told they would appear in January.

Chris Lewa, the director of the rights group the Arakan Project, said this week: ''Thanks to the fair investigative reporting by the Phuketwan journalists, the involvement of various Thai agencies in the massive smuggling and trafficking operations of Rohingya refugees and their related miseries is no more a secret.

''Rights groups should unite to call on Thailand to quash these defamation charges.''

Open Letter to the Chiefs of Four Allied Navies


January 4, 2014

The Chief of the Australian Navy - Vice Admiral Ray Griggs AO
The Secretary of the Navy, United States - Ray Mabus
The Chief of Defence Staff, Great Britain - General Sir Nick Houghton
Chief of Navy, NZ Defence Force - Rear Admiral Jack Steer


Gentlemen,

As four women who support peace, not war, we are pleading for your help. Our brother Alan Morison, who has been working as a journalist in Thailand, is being sued for criminal defamation by a captain on behalf of the Royal Thai Navy.

The captain is also using the Computer Crimes Act, an outrageous law designed to sink free speech and all it means. We ask your help because this is all about democracy. We believe the reputable navies of the world all support free speech and a free media in a free world.

We are peace loving sisters but our father John Morison went to World War II to fight for democracy in the Pacific and both our grandfathers fought in World War I at Gallipoli. One grandfather was wounded and shipped home, the other went on to the Western Front where he was gassed.

Our brother Alan was ready to fight in Vietnam. As a family, we've done our bit for the free world and democracy. Now Alan, it appears, is being condemned by the Royal Thai Navy for his award-winning work writing about the Rohingya, a stateless people who are being subjected to genocide in Burma and forced to flee to the sea.

We are certain we don't have to tell you gentlemen about genocide, or why WWII was fought. Thailand, you will recall, is where thousands of Allies died during that same war on the Burma railway, the Death railway.

We would hate to think they died in vain and that the lessons of democracy have not been learned in Thailand, of all places. But that appears to be the case.

It's understood in all democracies that no military should be beyond criticism. No military should be a law unto itself.

In defence of our brother, the United Nations human rights representative, Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Southeast Asian Press Alliance, the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand and Australia's Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance have all called on the Royal Thai Navy to withdraw its criminal defamation action.

Because you four gentlemen understand so well the parallel roles of the military and the media in a democracy, we ask all of you to please suggest that the Royal Thai Navy calls off this inappropriate court action. If the action is not brought to an end, we suggest you suspend all military cooperation with Thailand until such time as this action against free speech and democracy is halted.

Yours respectfully in peace,

Jenny Braddy,
Cathy Schmierer
Jill Morison
Lisa Kovaleff


Phuket News Story of The Year 2013:
http://www.nationmultimedia.com/specials/nationphoto/show.php?id=30&pid=16667/

Navy Uses Computer Crimes Act to Sue:
http://phuketwan.com/tourism/navy-captain-uses-computer-crimes-act-sue-journalists-criminal-defamation-19413//

Phuket Reporters Prepared for Prison:
http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/local/387125/reporters-prepared-for-prison-in-navy-defamation-lawsuit/

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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Good for them. Just a shame they didn't include Yingluck as a recipient. What I cannot understand about this whole unfair treatment of a couple of individuals is why the powers that be in the Thai Navy do not go after Reuters who wrote the original article, Al Jazeera and CNN who broadcast it to the world, the hundreds of internet sites with thousands of comments, as yet uncensored, all adding to the already badly tarnished image of the Thai Navy and Immigration? Why instead target a virtually unknown journalist who reported a paragraph originally written by Reuters news agency? If the Thai Navy do not drop this case I can see the world's media descending on Thailand, and maybe, the Computer Crimes Act amended and decriminalised. Freedom of speech and the press are misnomers in Thailand, and human rights are meaningless.

Posted by Pete on January 4, 2014 19:03

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well done ladies ..... i scratch my head and ask where is the Australian Govt ? what are they doing to protect its citizens living and working abroad ? what happened to the country that use to box way above its own weight ? more to the point what about the Australian public ? does nobody recognize the enormity of what these journalists have discovered in relation to the Rohingya situation ....wake up Australia !!!one of your citizens is in need of your support !!!

Posted by chris on January 4, 2014 19:06

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Why hasn't the Thai navy dropped these ridiculous charges? Well in a country where "saving face" is so important, even when wrong, they must follow it to the end, what they fail to understand, and we must ask ourselves why, is that they lose more face, not only locally but internationally, they are stuck in a quagmire of they only making, simply because of the total lack of intelligence and the inability to understand that there are consequences to their actions. I think we have all heard the saying they "can't see past their own nose."

Posted by Laurie Howells on January 5, 2014 09:22

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A good family sticking up for there brother well done and good luck .
The Thai navy should grow up they are supposed to be guardian's of the sea not a bunch of kid's.

Posted by hopeful on January 5, 2014 17:27

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As a Rohingya ,I applauded the brave call of four respectable sister of Alan Morison.The two honorable journalist must get fair justice .The world civil society must stand by Alan Morison and Chutima who always perform the best job . The continue high lighting tragedy of Rohingya boat people by Phuketwan is highly appreciable. So,we should have to stand by them .

Posted by Maung Kyaw Nu,President,Burmese Rohingya Association in Thailand (BRAT) on January 6, 2014 04:46


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