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Thailand

    September 19, 2014

    A Thai court’s decision to uphold a 10-year prison sentence given to an editor and social activist for allegedly insulting the royal family continues the relentless erosion of free speech in the country, Amnesty International said.

    The Appeals Court upheld the sentence against Somyot Prueksakasemsuk for publishing two articles about a fictional monarch that allegedly defamed the Thai monarchy. He did not write the articles in question.

    “This is another regressive decision by the Thai courts – Somyot has been imprisoned for nothing other than peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression. He should never have been prosecuted and must be released immediately,” said Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia-Pacific Director.

    Somyot, who turns 53 tomorrow, has been detained since 30 April 2011, and the authorities have turned down his request for bail and temporary release 15 times. His lawyers and relatives were not notified of this morning’s Appeals Court hearing.

    September 18, 2014

    The conviction of four peaceful protesters by a Thai military court today is an affront to justice and another sign of repression under military rule, Amnesty International said.

    The Bangkok Military Court today sentenced four individuals to three months’ imprisonment and 5,000 Bhat (US$150) fines for violating the ban on public gatherings of more than five people, imposed by the military under Martial Law. As the four pleaded guilty, the jail terms are suspended by two years.

    “This is another attempt by the Thai authorities to silence dissent and make an example of those who voice opposition against military rule. These individuals have done nothing but peacefully express their opinions – they should never have had to face trials, and their convictions and sentences should be quashed immediately,” said Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director.

    “The four were convicted for acts that must never constitute offences in a court that must never try civilians.”

    September 10, 2014

    Hundreds of arbitrary detentions, reports of torture and other ill-treatment, sweeping restrictions on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and unfair trials in military courts are creating a climate of fear in Thailand, and there are no signs of a let-up, Amnesty International said today in a new report.

    The report, Attitude adjustment –100 days under Martial Law, is the first comprehensive investigation into Thailand’s human rights situation since the military imposed Martial Law on 20 May 2014 and seized power two days later.

    “Three months since the coup, a picture emerges from our investigations of widespread and far-reaching human rights violations perpetrated by the military government that are ongoing,” said Richard Bennett, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Director.

    “The Thai authorities should end this disturbing pattern of repression, end human rights violations, respect its international human rights obligations and allow open debate and discussion -  all of which are vital to the country’s future.”

    Arbitrary detentions

    July 03, 2014

    Today’s guilty verdict in the case of a peaceful anti-coup protester in Thailand sets a dangerous precedent for freedom of assembly and contributes to the climate of fear under military rule, Amnesty International said.

    In the first protest-related verdict handed down since the military took power, Pathumwan Municipal Courtin Thailand’s capital Bangkok today convicted Weerayuth Kongkanathan for violating martial law and a ban on gatherings of more than five people. He was sentenced to one month in prison suspended for a year, and ordered to pay a 3,000 Baht fine (USD$93).

    “Weerayuth has done nothing but peacefully exercise his right to demonstrate – he should never have been charged in the first place, and his conviction and sentence should be expunged,” said Richard Bennett, Amnesty International’s Asia Pacific Director.

    June 20, 2014

    There appears to be no end in sight to violations of a range of human rights one month after martial law was declared in Thailand, Amnesty International warned today.

    Since the military declared martial law on 20 May 2014, the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly have been harshly restricted and extended powers of detention have resulted in some 511 individuals including political activists being arbitrarily detained, though most were held for a few days.

    “Sacrificing human rights for political expediency is never a price worth paying – Thailand’s National Council for Peace and Order must ensure that the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly are protected. They must stop arbitrary detentions and prosecutions of peaceful critics,” said Richard Bennett, Asia-Pacific Director at Amnesty International.

    “It is high time Thailand’s military rolls back the repressive and vaguely worded orders it has put in place, many of which violate Thailand's obligations under international human rights law.”

    June 06, 2014

    The arrest of a high-profile anti-coup protest leader and military court summons of seven peaceful protesters are the latest moves in a systematic and widening crackdown on key human rights by Thailand’s military, Amnesty International said.

    Sombat Boonngamanong, a prominent social activist, was arrested last night in Chonburi. He had publicly refused to observe orders for him to report to the military, and from hiding issued online calls for peaceful protests.

    “Sombat Boonngamanong should be released immediately, unless he is charged with a recognizable criminal offense and remanded by an independent, civilian court. This is the latest in a disturbing wave of arrests of people purely voicing disquiet about the military regime. The army’s course of action is looking increasingly like a purge,” said Richard Bennett, Amnesty International’s Asia Director.

    May 23, 2014

    The new Thai military regime has imposed harsh restrictions on freedom of expression and assembly that should be repealed immediately, Amnesty International said as the army dispersed a peaceful protest today and reportedly arrested at least three people.

    The organization also urges the military regime to immediately clarify the whereabouts of scores of political leaders reported to be detained in unknown locations, and allow them access to lawyers.

    Hundreds of people gathered in central Bangkok today to demand a return to civilian rule, before soldiers dispersed the protest in the evening local time after it had carried on for several hours. At least three demonstrators were reportedly arrested.

    “If soldiers are arresting peaceful protesters then this is a dangerous precedent – people simply expressing opinions must not be penalized. The need for the military to exercise restraint is particularly crucial given that demonstrations calling for civilian rule could intensify,” said Richard Bennett, Amnesty International’s Asia Pacific Director.

    May 20, 2014

    Authorities in Thailand must ensure that human rights are protected and respected, following the imposition of Martial Law today, which grants the army sweeping powers and imposes tight restrictions on key human rights and has already led to several media outlets being taken off air, Amnesty International said.

    “The declaration of Martial Law decree must not be a blueprint for human rights violations. It is crucial that the military shows the utmost restraint and fully respects Thailand’s obligations under international human rights law,” said Richard Bennett, Amnesty International’s Asia Director.

    Martial Law, which was unilaterally declared by the Thai army today, suspends or restricts a number of human rights.

    The military now has powers to detain people without a warrant for up to one week, to seize property, and to search people or property without a court order. It also provides the military with impunity from claims for compensation.

    May 15, 2014

    The Thai authorities must bring to justice those responsible for killing at least three people in this morning’s grenade and gunfire attack on an anti-government protest camp in Thailand’s capital Bangkok, Amnesty International said.

    “Today’s appalling attack is the latest escalation of political violence. Authorities must launch a thorough investigation, in accordance with Thailand’s international human rights obligations,” said Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director.

    “A failure to investigate the attack and hold those responsible accountable would signal that impunity rules in Thailand and risk an increasingly vicious cycle of retaliatory violence. It would also fly in the face of victims’ and their families’ right to justice.”

    This morning’s attack, when unidentified gunmen stormed an anti-government protest camp nearby Bangkok’s Democracy Monument, has left at least three people dead and more than 20 injured.

    January 10, 2014

    Thai authorities must protect and respect human rights during mass protests planned to be held in Bangkok next week, Amnesty International said. The organization has also urged all protest leaders to call on their followers not to commit human rights abuses.

    Protesters have announced plans to stage mass demonstrations and shut down government offices until the current government steps down. The government has deployed some 15,000 military and police to the capital.

    “The situation in Thailand is tense, volatile and unpredictable. There is a real risk of loss of life and injury unless human rights are fully respected,” said Isabelle Arradon, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Deputy Director.

    “Security forces should ensure that the right to peaceful protest is upheld - however, they also have a duty to protect the safety of the public. When carrying out their work, law enforcement officials should apply non-violent means before resorting to the use of force, and always exercise restraint in its use.” 

    August 01, 2013

    A ruling by Thailand’s Supreme Court shows how the authorities have failed to provide justice for 85 people that died at the hands of the security forces in Tak Bai, Amnesty International said.

    “Today’s ruling ignores the actions of security forces and officials involved in events that led to deaths of 85 people. Their actions were either intentional or negligent and therefore those involved should be brought to court. Families have been waiting for more than eight years for justice,” said Isabelle Arradon, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director.

    On 25 October 2004 security forces opened fire on protesters demonstrating outside Tak Bai police station in the southern province of Narathiwat.

    Seven were shot dead, and a further 78 were suffocated or crushed to death in army vans transporting them to a military detention camp. Some 1,200 people were also held in military custody for days without medical attention, many of whom were severely injured.

    January 23, 2013

    The sentencing of a human rights defender to ten years in prison for publishing two articles allegedly insulting the monarchy is a serious setback for freedom of expression in Thailand, Amnesty International said.

    The Criminal Court today found Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, a magazine editor and labour rights activist, guilty under Thailand’s so-called lèse majesté law for allegedly publishing two articles defaming the royal family.

    Somyot has been detained since 30 April 2011, and the authorities have repeatedly turned down his request for bail.

    “This is a regressive decision – Somyot has been found guilty simply for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression and should be released immediately,” said Isabelle Arradon, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia-Pacific Director.

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