Thailand: Human Rights Situation Rapidly Deteriorating as Political Impasse Continues


    The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), a regional human rights group with 47 member organisation across 16 countries in Asia, registers its deep concern at the rapidly deteriorating human rights situation in Thailand following the imposition of martial law since 20 May 2014 and subsequently a military coup on 22 May 2014.

    The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), a regional human rights group with 47 member organisation across 16 countries in Asia, registers its deep concern at the rapidly deteriorating human rights situation in Thailand following the imposition of martial law since 20 May 2014 and subsequently a military coup on 22 May 2014. Increasing restrictions have been imposed on the exercise and enjoyment of basic rights and freedoms while violations continue unabated without any accountability or safeguard mechanisms put in place by the military government.
    In a time of deep political turmoil and uncertainty, the restrictions on press freedom – through the initial silencing of TV stations and channels, sweeping restrictions on print, broadcast and online media, blocking of websites and threats to shut down social media – are particularly worrying as people are denied access to crucial information, critical analysis and the opportunity to discuss issues of national importance. This is further exacerbated by the recent summons and arrests of academics, journalists and other media practitioners who continued to report on or speak out against the coup and for alternative solution.
    FORUM-ASIA calls for the rescinding of all restrictions that prevent the access of the public to timely and accurate reports and called on the authorities to allow the media to operate in an environment that is conducive for the discharging of their professional duty.
    We are also disturbed by the arbitrary arrest and detention of persons, including politicians, political activists, academics, journalists and anti-coup peaceful protesters, by the military. To date, the whereabouts of a number of those detained have not been disclosed. They have also not been duly informed of the reasons for arrest or formally charged in court. This is in clear violation of Thailand’s international legal obligations as a State party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which stipulates the strict and limited application of emergency powers. This is further compounded by the recent announcement by the military to subject violators of security laws and standing orders to court-martial proceedings.
    FORUM-ASIA is further deeply concerned by the incidences of clashes and the use of excessive force between military personnel and civilians during anti-coup protests that have been held in various parts of Bangkok. We urge the National Council for Peace and Order for restraint and its soldiers to observe maximum tolerance in handling voices of dissent and protestors to maintain diligence to avoid further violations of rights.
    Finally, FORUM-ASIA calls for the prompt re-establishment of the rule of law as well as respect and protection of human rights in this turbulent period. We stress that these concerns must not be disregarded even as the country attempts to find a way out of the political impasse. We further emphasise that it is imperative for all actors involved to find, at the earliest, a democratic solution to the current political situation.
    THAILAND: Villagers and rights defenders at imminent risk of violence
    The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has learned that threats against human rights defenders in the Khon Rak Ban Koen Group working to protect their communities from the negative effects of mining in Loei Province in Thailand are again at imminent risk of violence, under the cover of the military takeover of the country's government and administration.
    As we described in our original appeal (AHRC-UAC-073-2014), at 10pm on the evening of 15 May 2014, a group of approximately 100 unidentified armed men wearing black entered the area of Nanongbong in Loei Province. The armed men attacked the villagers and took 30 villagers as hostages, including two of the key leaders of a struggle against a mining operation. The hostages were placed face down on the ground and their hands and feet were bound. The barrier that the villagers had constructed to block access to the mine was destroyed and trucks were seen transporting materials from the mine. The villagers were released at 4am, and report being assaulted and threatened with guns as well as their hands and feet being bound. When other villagers called the police, only two police were sent to aid them, and they turned back once they saw the large number of armed men. To date, the identity of the armed men who entered the village is not known, but there has been no attempt by the authorities to hold them to account.
    The AHRC and Protection International have now learned from a reliable source that the mining company involved has rented 55 trucks to prepare to transport the ore from a mine owned by Tungkum Limited on 29 May 2014. Two weeks ago, the village around the mine was attacked and human rights defenders and villagers beaten and detained by armed, marked men while ore was carried out from the mine. The AHRC has also learned from a reliable source that on 28 May 2014, a lawyer working with the community was followed while he was driving to court to submit a petition for a temporary protection order to prevent the company from carrying out any activities, including the transport of copper ore from the mine. This is clear intimidation.
    The AHRC is very concerned that violence will again be carried out against the villagers on 29 May 2014. The risk of violence against human rights defenders in Loei is heightened given the broad-based repression and criminalization of protest caused by the declaration of martial law on 20 May 2014, and the coup by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO). The AHRC calls on all those concerned with human rights in Thailand to call for assurances from the NCPO and other relevant authorities to ensure that the villagers' safety and right to life and livelihood are protected.
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    Organisation/s Involved

    Released by the Executive Committee of FORUM-ASIA:
    1.     Mr. Henri Tiphagne, People’s Watch, India (Chairperson)
    2.     Mr. Peter Jacob, National Commission for Justice and Peace, Pakistan
    3.     Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan, Odhikar, Bangladesh
    4.     Sister Crescencia L. Lucero, Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP), Philippines
    5.     Mr. Haris Azhar, The Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS), Indonesia
    6.     Ms. Chalida Tajaroensuk, People’s Empowerment Foundation, Thailand
    7.     Mr. Taeho Lee, People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD), South Korea
    On behalf of the following member organisations of FORUM-ASIA:
    1. ASK – Ain O Salish Kendra
    2. MLAA – Madaripur Legal Aid Association
    3. Odhikar
    4. RIC – Resource Integration Center
    5. HREIB – Human Rights Education Institute of Burma
    6. ADHOC – Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association
    7. LICADHO – Cambodia League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights
    8. ADHIKAR – Center for Social Action Documentation Research & Training
    9. Dalit Foundation
    10. FARR – Friends’ Association for Rural Reconstruction
    11. MASUM – Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha
    12. PW – People’s Watch
    13. PVCHR – People’s Vigilance Committee on Human Rights
    14. RDS-LRSA – Rural Development Society
    15. SICHREM – South India Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring
    16. AJI – The Alliance of Independent Journalists Indonesia
    17. HRWG – Indonesia’s NGO Coalition for International Human Rights Advocacy – Human Rights Working Group
    18. IMPARSIAL – Inisiatif Masyarakat Partisipatif untuk Transisi Berkeadilan
    19. KontraS – The Federation of Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence
    20. PBHI – Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Association
    21. SAMIN – Yayasan Sekretariat Anak Merdeka Indonesia
    22. YLBHI – Indonesia Legal Aid Foundation
    23. ERA Consumer – Education and Research Association for Consumers
    24. SUARAM – Suara Rakyat Malaysia
    25. CHRD – Center for Human Rights and Development
    26. GI – Globe International
    27. CSRC – Community Self Reliance Centre
    28. INSEC – Informal Sector Service Center
    29. WWS – Women’s Welfare Society
    30. B4A – Bytes for All (ICTs for development, democracy and social justice)
    31. HRCP – Human Rights Commission of Pakistan
    32. NCJP – National Commission for Justice and Peace
    33. PODA – Potohar Organization for Development Advocacy
    34. SPARC – Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child
    35. PAHRA – Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates
    36. PLRC – PILIPINA Legal Resources Center
    37. TFDP – Task Force Detainees of the Philippines
    38. Tanggol-Kalikasan – Public Interest Environmental Law Office
    39. Think Centre
    South Korea
    40. KHIS – Korean House for International Solidarity
    41. PSPD – People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democrac
    Sri Lanka
    42. INFORM Human Rights Documentation Centre
    43. LST – Law and Society Trust
    44. TAHR – Taiwan Association for Human Rights
    45. People’s Empowerment Foundation
    Timor Leste
    46. HAK Association – Perkumpulan Hukum, Hak Asasi dan Keadilan (Law, Basic Rights, and Justice Foundation)
    47. JSMP – Judicial System Monitoring Programme