The widely broadcast images of an Australian citizen shackled, herded into a holding cell, and sentenced to three years in prison for writing one paragraph should be causing considerable discomfort for the Australian government. In the past Kevin Rudd has made it clear that it is fine for us to have disagreements with our friends in the region on basic human rights issues. So what will he be doing about our good friend Thailand?
There are some indications that pressure is building for more decisive Australian action. This is an extract from The Australian:
THE family of an Australian man behind bars in Thailand for insulting its royal family says the Federal Government should have done more to try to keep him out of jail. Melbourne writer Harry Nicolaides may have avoided his three-year sentence if the Australian Government did more to help him after his arrest in Thailand in August last year, his family says.
“Up until the end of December I was quite frankly alarmed and at times shocked at the treatment we had,” Nicolaides’ brother Forde Nicolaides said. “It is only more recently that they (the Government) have come to the party. “I appreciate there is some sensitivity around the offence, but I think more could have been done earlier. It could have shaped a different outcome.” …
Forde Nicolaides was critical of Foreign Minister Stephen Smith and said the Federal Government had urged his family not to speak to the media, which he says was probably a mistake.
“There is a huge expectation gap between what Australian citizens think the Australian Government will do when they are in trouble overseas versus what they will do,” Mr Nicolaides said. Mr Nicolaides said now his brother had been sentenced, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd should write a letter of support for Harry to the Thai royals and Thailand’s Prime Minister, seeking mercy.