Thailand on the Brink

May 26, 2011 02:00 pm - May 26, 2010 04:00 pm


Sunai Phasuk
Senior Researcher, Thailand
Human Rights Watch

with comments by:

Joshua Kurlantzick
Fellow for Southeast Asia
Council on Foreign Relations

moderated by:

Brian Joseph
Senior Director, Asia and Global Programs
National Endowment for Democracy

About the Event

Over past weeks, the political standoff between anti-government protesters known as the “Red Shirts” and the Abhisit government has become increasingly violent, leaving hundreds wounded and dozens killed.  As peaceful civic actions have given way to physical clashes, soldiers and police have increasingly shed their initial restraint and now more readily use force, including lethal force, when facing provocations by protesters. 

As Thailand, a once stable and reliable American ally in Southeast Asia, becomes increasingly unstable and social polarization deepens, our speakers examined the origins of this crisis and offer analysis on trends and developments unfolding on the streets of Bangkok.

About the Speakers

Sunai Phasuk, Thailand senior researcher in Human Rights Watch’s Asia division, has specialized expertise in political, security, and foreign policy analysis in the context of human rights and democratization in Thailand. His recent works include extensive investigation and analysis of  violence and human rights abuses in Thailand’s conflict-ridden southern border  provinces, human rights violations in the context of “the war on drugs,” and political polarization and instability in Thailand.

Based in Bangkok, he is regularly called on to give commentary on those topics by the media, governmental bodies in Thailand, embassies, and international agencies, including the United Nations, the European Commission, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.  Before joining Human Rights Watch, Sunai worked as an advisor at the Thai Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and a spokesperson of the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development. During that time, he was also a fellow in Asian Studies at Chulalongkorn University in Thailand. Sunai graduated from the University of Warwick’s Politics and International Studies Department.

Joshua Kurlantzick is fellow for Southeast Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). Mr. Kurlantzick was most recently a scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where he studied Southeast Asian politics and economics and China’s relations with Southeast Asia, including Chinese investment, aid, and diplomacy. Previously, he was a fellow at the University of Southern California Center on Public Diplomacy and a fellow at the Pacific Council on International Policy.

An accomplished journalist, Mr. Kurlantzick has written for publications including Time, The New Republic, American Prospect, Mother Jones, and Current History. He is the winner of the Luce Scholarship for journalism in Asia and was selected as a finalist for the Osborn Elliot prize for journalism in Asia. His first book, Charm Offensive: How China’s Soft Power Is Transforming the World, was nominated for CFR’s 2008 Arthur Ross Book Award.

Brian Joseph is Senior Director for Asia and Global Programs at the National Endowment for Democracy.  He served as Director for South and Southeast Asia programs at NED from 2005 to 2009.  In this capacity, he oversaw millions of dollars worth of grants to hundreds of civil society organizations in the region. He travels regularly to the region. Brian has spoken widely and written about Burma, Pakistan, Thailand, human rights in Asia, and democracy promotion in closed societies. He has testified before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations’ Subcommittee on East Asia and Pacific Affairs and the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, provided high-level briefings for State Department officials, and taught at the Foreign Service Institute.

Brian formerly served as a volunteer South Asia regional coordinator for Amnesty International USA and he is a member of the International Human Rights Funders’ Group and the Burma Donors’ Forum. He has a BA in History from Colorado College and an MA in South Asian Studies from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.