Alert: 7 people are still imprisoned 1 year after crackdown on human rights in Belarus
Thailand
23.10.20
Urgent Interventions

Release all pro-democracy activists, end crackdown on peaceful dissent and independent media

Paris-Geneva, October 23, 2020 – TheObservatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (FIDH-OMCT) urges Thaiauthorities to immediately and unconditionally release all pro-democracyactivists who remain detained in connection with their participation inpeaceful pro-democracy protests. The Observatory also reiterates its call onthe Thai authorities to stop all attacks and acts of harassment againstpro-democracy activists and participants in the ongoing demonstrations inBangkok and in the rest of the country.

According to the Thai Lawyers for HumanRights (TLHR), between October 13 and 21, 2020, police arrested 90 individualsin connection with ongoing peaceful pro-democracy protests in Bangkok and otherparts of the country. Those arrested included scores of pro-democracyactivists, a journalist, and a 16-year-old boy. As of October 23, most of thepro-democracy activists had been released.[1]However, the following eight remained detained:

- Mr. Anon Nampa, human rights lawyer, was arrested on October 15 inBangkok for violation of the Emergency Decree. He has been charged with“sedition” (Article 116 of the Criminal Code) in connection with hisparticipation in a peaceful pro-democracy protest in Chiang Mai on August 9. Heis detained in Chiang Mai Central Prison.

- Mr. Parit Chiwarak and Ms. PanusayaSithijirawattanakul, Thammasat University student activists, were arrestedon October 15 in Bangkok for violation of the Emergency Decree. They have beencharged with “sedition” (Article 116) and the Computer Crimes Act in connectionwith their participation in a peaceful pro-democracy protest on ThammasatUniversity campus in Rangsit, Pathumthani Province, on August 10. The two aredetained at the Bangkok Remand Prison and the Central Women’s CorrectionalInstitution in Bangkok, respectively.

- Mr. Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, prominent human rights defender and formerlèse-majesté prisoner, was arrested in Bangkok on October 16 on variouscharges, including “sedition” (Article 116), in connection with hisparticipation in a peaceful pro-democracy protest on September 19 in Bangkok.He is detained at the Bangkok Remand Prison.

- Mr. Ekachai Hongkangwan, human rights defender and former lèse-majestéprisoner, was arrested in Bangkok on October 16 on charges of “committing orattempting to commit an act of violence against the Queen” (Article 110), inconnection with his participation in a peaceful pro-democracy protest inBangkok on October 14. He is detained at the Bangkok Remand Prison.

- Mr. Panupong Chadnok, member of the group Eastern Youth for Democracy,was arrested in Bangkok on October 17 for violation of the Emergency Decree. Hehas been charged with “sedition” (Article 116) in connection with hisparticipation in three separate peaceful pro-democracy protests in Bangkok inSeptember and October. He is detained at the Bangkok Remand Prison.

- Mr. Patiwat Saraiyaem, human rights defender and former lèse-majestéprisoner, was arrested in Khon Kean on October 19 for violation of theEmergency Decree. He has been charged with “sedition” (Article 116) inconnection with his participation in a peaceful pro-democracy protest inBangkok on September 19.

- Mr. Suranat Paenprasert, Coordinator of Active Youth, was arrested inBangkok on October 21 on charges of “committing or attempting to commit an actof violence against the Queen” (Article 110), in connection with hisparticipation in a peaceful pro-democracy protest in Bangkok on October 14. Heis detained at the Bangkok Remand Prison.

Amid ongoing demonstrations, theObservatory condemns the violent dispersal of thousands of peaceful protestersby riot police on the evening of October 16 in central Bangkok. The decision toviolently disperse the protest and the use of water cannons, which were filled withpotentially harmful chemical, are inconsistent with various relevantinternational standards.[2]

The Observatory also decries the Thaigovernment’s attempts to silence pro-democracy and independent media outlets,which have been targeted for simply using their online platforms to report onthe ongoing protests and related crackdown. On October 20, 2020, under the EmergencyDecree issued by Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha on October 15, police requested the NationalBroadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) and the Ministry ofDigital Economy and Society (DES) to investigate whether the online platformsof the pro-democracy group Free Youth and independent Thai media outlets VoiceTV, Reporters, Standard, and Prachatai had violated the EmergencyDecree and should be suspended. On October 21, the Bangkok Criminal Courtordered the suspension of VoiceTV’sonline platforms. On October 22, the Bangkok Criminal overturned its owndecision and rejected the police request to suspend the online platforms of allfive outlets. The Emergency Decree was lifted on October 22.

The Observatory for the Protection of HumanRights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the WorldOrganisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is toprevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDHand OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union HumanRights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

[1] Among thepro-democracy activists released were: Mr. PrasitKhrutharot; Mr. BoonkueanoonPaothong, Mr. TattepRunagprapaikitseree, Mr. KorakotSaengyenphan, Mr. Nawat Liangwattana,Mr. Wasan Klamthaworn, Mr. Chatchai Kaewkhampod, Mr. Natchanon Phayakphan, Mr. Shinawatra Chankrachang, Mr. Siraphop Pumpuengput, Mr. Sombat Thongyoy, Mr. Nattanon Duangsungnern, Mr. Anurak Jentwanit, Mr. Elia Fofi, Mr. Tossaporn Serirak, Ms. PatsaravaleeTanakitvibulpon, and Mr. JatupatBoonpattararaksa.

[2] Theseinternational standards include: Article 21 of the International Covenant onCivil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Thailand is state party; Article15 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Thailand is stateparty; paragraphs 85-87 of the UN Human Rights Committee’s General Comment No.37 on Article 21 of the ICCPR; paragraph 13 of the Basic Principles on the Useof Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials; and paragraphs 7.7.2 –7.7.4 of the UN Human Rights Guidance on Less-Lethal Weapons in Law Enforcement.

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