FORUM-ASIA

(Bangkok, 25 March 2015) – The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) is deeply concerned by the Draft Public Assembly Act (Draft Act) regulating public gatherings, including demonstrations that require prior notification. The Draft Act, which was proposed on 26 February 2015, is expected to be passed by the military junta-appointed National Legislative Assembly and enter into force this month.

The Draft Act declares that the organisation of any public assembly in the area or perimeter within 50 meters from Parliament, Government House or a Court could be prohibited under police discretion. Any public assembly from 10 pm to 6 am requires permission from the authorities and anyone who wants to organise a public assembly that may affect the maintenance of national security, public safety, public order, public morals, public health or the convenience of people when using public property or the protection of the rights and liberties of other people – is obliged to inform the authorised body via a written application at least 24 hours in advance.

FORUM-ASIA is alarmed at the junta’s efforts to pass the Draft Act without public scrutiny nor transparent parliamentary process, which will further add to the deterioration of fundamental freedoms in Thailand.

Article 11 of the Draft Act will give the authorities full power to prohibit public assemblies and on extremely vague and arbitrary ground. As a consequence, the Draft Act could be used by the regime as a basis to infringe the right to freedom of peaceful assembly. Article 14 of the Draft Act states that a public assembly which takes place without submitting an application for prior approval or a public assembly banned by the authorised body is regarded as an unlawful assembly and risks criminal liability. In this regard, FORUM-ASIA reiterates that the right to peaceful assembly – to public gatherings and peaceful protests, is at the heart of an active civil society and that the state has obligation to facilitate, not infringe or criminalise the realisation of this basic right of the people.

In addition to criminal liability for failing to obtain prior authorisation for public assemblies, organisers face a draconcian prison sentence of upto 10 years and a hefty fine of upto 200,000 THB under Section 5 of the draft Act if they organise a demonstration that results in severe damage to the public transportation system, telecommunications, or pubilc and economic infrastructure or if they fail to comply in any other way with instructions issued by the authorised body. Of equal concern is Article 26, which gives carte blanche to the authorities to act with unfettered discretion by indicating that any action taken under the Draft Act shall not be subject to the regular Law on Administrative Procedures.

According to the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, the organiser of a demonstration should not bear any responsibility for the unlawful behaviour of others. There is concern that these provisions in the Draft Act would be in violation of accepted international human rights standards with respect to assembly and association, necessitating greater scrutiny. 

Civil and political rights have been severely restricted under the military-ruled government, with the right to freedom of assembly in particular restricted under imposition of Martial Law. It is impossible in the current political context that people will be able to voice their concerns regarding the Draft Act.

FORUM-ASIA therefore calls on the Thai government to:

• Provide a platform for public participation to discuss the law before it be approved in The National Legislative Assembly;

• Ensure adequate consultation with civil society groups;

• Amend provisions which are not in compliance

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In a bid to stop the political activities of student activists, the military officers intimidates 17 student activists by paying visits to their places, dorms, and parent’s places.

The Thai Student Center for Democracy (TSCD), a student activist group, on Wednesday revealed on the group facebook page that since 19 March, 17 student activists were intimidated by military officers, who came to visit their houses.

“The military and police officers both in uniforms and plainclothes raided, carried out searches, and talked to the students’ parents and student activists, who have records of political movement since the 2014 coup d’état in an attempt to adjust their attitudes,” wrote the TSCD on facebook.

At 1.30pm on Wednesday three police officers from the Special Branch Royal Thai Police (SBP), a police unit responsible for national security intelligence, visited parents of Natchacha Kongudom, a prominent TSCD student activist from Bangkok University, in the northeastern province of Nong Khai.

On the same day, several military officers visited parents of Rangsiman Rome, another prominent student activist from the League of Liberal Thammasat for Democracy (LLTD), another activist group based on Thammasat University.

Both Natchacha and Rangsiman participated in the protest in front of Bangkok’s military court on 16 March to support the four embattled anti-junta activists from the Resistant Citizen, an anti-junta activist group, who were charged with defying the junta’s National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Order No. 7/2014 for holding a political gathering of more than five people on 14 February.             

In addition, on Wednesday Seri Kasetsart, a student activist group based in Kasetsart University in Bangkok, revealed on the group’s facebook page that on Wednesday evening security officers in plainclothes visited the house of Athiwich Pattamapornsirigun, a leading member of the group.

Athiwich was not at his house during the officers’ visit. However, the officers talked to his family members and told them to send him a message that he should not engage in any political activity.

Seri Kasetsart is the student group which actively campaigns against the privatisation of public universities, such as the privatisation of Kasetsart University and Thammasat University.

After the incident, the group urged the junta to refrain from any dictatorial action.

Seri Kasetsart is one of the student groups that rallied in front of the National Parliament against the university privatisation on Thursday morning.  

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BANGKOK, 26 March 2015: Airports of Thailand reports its February data showing increases in both aircraft movements and passengers at six airports under its management. AoT released its latest data, Tuesday, showing a 25.84% improvement at its managed airports. The six airports handled 9,180,195 passengers up from 7,295,372. The overall airports’ aircraft movements also increased […] Read more...

The police on Wednesday morning arrested one of the four embattled anti-junta activists from Resistant Citizen, a pro-democracy activist group, and planned to have him in jail tonight.

At around 00.30am on Thursday, the police arrested Pansak Srithep, a pro-democracy activist and father of a boy killed by the military during the 2010 political violence, from his house in the north of Bangkok before bringing him to the Chanasongkram Police Station for interrogation.

On Thursday morning, the police brought Pansak to Bangkok’s military court and submitted the custody request for him. The police said that they will object the activist’s bail request.

The military court issued the arrest warrant for Pansk on 17 March.

Pansak Srithep in police custody on 26 March 2015 

According to Anon Numpa, a volunteered human rights lawyer for Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), and fellow Resistant Citizen activist, in his capacity as Pansak’s attorney, the police charged Pansak with violation of the junta’s National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO)’s Order No.7/2014, which prohibits a political gathering with more than five persons, offenses under Article 14 of the Computer Crime Code for importing illegal computer contents, and article 116 for Criminal Code for instigating rebellion.

Anon added that the police barred him from talking the activist while they were writing the report regarding Pansak’s arrest. However, Anon was allowed to see pansak after he raised the issue to the police.

Prior to his arrest, Pansak planned to walked from his residence to Bangkok’s military court from 26-27 March for interrogation.    

Earlier on 14-16 March, Pansak led a three-days march titled ‘I Walk Therefore I Am’ from his home to Pathumwan Police Station in central Bangkok. Organised by Resistant Citizen, an anti-junta activist group, the march was to campaign against the use of military courts to try civilians.

In early February, Pansak and three other activists, Sirawit Serithiwat, a student activist from Thammasat University, Anon, and Wannakiet Chusuwan, a pro-democracy activist and taxi driver were charged with defying the junta’s National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Order No. 7/2014 for holding a political gathering of more than five people on 14 February. If found guilty the four could be jailed for one year and fined up to 20,000 baht.

The military Judge Advocate General’s Office will announce if the four will be indicted on charges related to 14 February activity on 27 March.

 

Read related news:

Military court releases 4 anti-junta activists

   

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THE allegations against the four men are severe: they are accused of being in connection to an alleged ”terrorism network” plotting to launch bomb attacks in Bangkok. A blast on March 7 at the Criminal Court (where no one was injured) is being pinned on them. They were held in military barracks for almost a week without charges, in accordance with martial law that is still in force since the military coup almost a year ago. Read more...

Thai junta ignored the UN’s inquiry into the torture allegations of Kritsuda Khunasen, a red shirt political activist who was detained incommunicado more than 20 days in June 2014.  

The UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on Wednesday revealed that the junta did not reply to the agency inquiry, submitted on 22 August 2014, which urged the Thai authorities to investigate the torture allegations of Kritsuda Khunasen, a red shirt activist who was detained by the military nearly a month in June 2014.   

The UN rights agency also revealed that the junta did reply to the inquiry, submitted on 10 October 2014, on the alleged torture of five suspects who were arrested by the security officers after the May 2014 coup. However, the Thai representative to the UN merely told the agency that relevant Thai authorities would consider about.

Four of the five suspects were accused of attacking the anti-election People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) protesters on Ratchadamri Road in central Bangkok on February 2014. Another suspect was accused of involving in the drag trafficking ring.  

The junta did not reply to the first inquiry. As for the second inquiry, the Thai Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN submitted a letter to the agency on 14 October 2014, saying that the Thai authorities acknowledged the inquiry and that it would be sent to relevant agencies for further proceedings.

“The Permanent Mission has forwarded your letter to the relevant agencies in Thailand for their further consideration,” wrote the Thai representative. “ In the meantime, I wish to assure you of Thailand’s commitment to the protection and promotion of human rights.”

According to the reports the UN received, Krtisuda was subjected to blindfolding, beatings, sexual harassment, and suffocation. Meanwhile, the UN said the reports show the five suspects were allegedly threatened to be killed, blindfolded, beaten, suffocated, buried up to their necks, and electric shocked under the military custody.

The UN rights agency urged in the inquiries that the Thai authorities should investigate into the torture allegations and comply with the Covenant Against Torture (CAT) and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Thailand ratified.

In recent case, the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), said four of the criminal court bombing suspects, were tortured after their arrest in police custody in early March 2015.

“The four suspects had been subjected to torture including being hit, punched and kicked in the head, chest and back and threatened with assault in order to extract information from them,” said TLHR. “In addition, some suspects were electrocuted, leaving visible marks on their skin while being held in custody under martial law between 9 and 15 March 2015.”

Last week, Col Winthai Suwaree, spokesperson of the junta’s National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), stated that the allegations of torture by the four suspects are false. He said that the allegations are a distortion of the facts, and are aimed at ruining the credibility of the authorities.

The communications between the OHCHR and the Thai government were recently made public for the 28th session of the UN Human Rights Council from 2-27 March 2015.

The communications were disclosed after it remained confidential for three months to give government the right to reply.

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An ousted prime minister signing a condolence book, a top Bangkok official who tells Bangkokians to go live in the hills if they want to avoid flooding, a volcano in Chile, a tuna fish and Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein were featured events on March 2... Read more...
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Ecological Alert and Recovery-Thailand (EARTH)

March 25, 2015 – More than 40 residents from Ban Laeng rural municipality, Rayong province travelled to Bangkok and submitted a human rights violation complaint to Dr. Niran Pitakwatchara, National Human Rights Commissioner. Residents were recently attacked and threatened by men who claimed to represent TPI Polene Public Company Limited, which plans to construct a plastic pellet storage facility near the source of public drinking water for 7 villages in Ban Laeng rural municipality, Rayong province.

The attack followed a roadside protest held by approximately 100 residents in the evening of March 17, after many large trailer trucks carried in steel piles for construction through residential roads. According to residents, the TPI Polene construction project did not conduct any public hearing or inform local residents prior to construction.

The attack on Ban Laeng villagers on 17 March 2015 (courtesy of Ecological Alert and Recovery-Thailand (EARTH))

 

On the night of March 18 around 1:20 am, a black pick-up truck parked in the middle of the road and turned on beam lights at the ten villagers who were left watching the construction site. When two residents approached the truck to ask the purpose of their visit, 4 men stepped out of the truck, punched and kicked the two residents, one of whom was beaten unconscious.

When other residents stepped in, the 4 men threatened to beat harder. Later, the 4 men confiscated almost all mobile phones of the residents on site and removed all photos and videos of the event. A local police officer in Ban Laeng tried to stop the violent attack on residents, but the attacking men pointed to the police officer’s face and threatened him to stay away otherwise he will be transferred out of his job.

The disputed areas of Ban Laeng rural municipality in the eastern Rayong province (courtesy of Ecological Alert and Recovery-Thailand (EARTH))

The TPI Polene project of approximately 20 acres is located in a watershed area, targeted for rural and agricultural conservation, according to the draft Rayong Provincial Land Use Plan. A public creek flows through the project site, connecting a public reservoir with a water filtration facility which provides drinking water for 7 villages and agricultural water for several thousand acres of fruit orchards.

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