Junta orders rights groups not to hold talks on human rights violations since coup

 
The junta has forced human rights groups, including Amnesty International, to call off an event to discuss human rights violations since the coup, and deployed troops at the venue.  
 
The event, organized by Amnesty International Thailand, the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) and the Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF), was to be held at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand, Maneeya Building, Bangkok, at 2.30 pm on Tuesday. 
 
 
Policemen in front of the Maneeya building on Tuesday morning
 
From Tuesday morning onward, military officers, about 10 police officers in uniform and several plainclothes policemen were deployed around the venue and in front of the club. 
 
On Tuesday at 2 pm the event organizers told almost a hundred attendees that they had cancelled the event because of the junta’s order.  
 
The event organizers reportedly had been receiving phone calls from the military all day since Monday.
 
The event was to have included a presentation by TLHR, which has compiled cases of human rights violations during the 100 days since the coup, and a panel discussion, with panellists and the moderator from the International Commission of Jurists, Human Rights Watch, CrCF, TLHR, and iLaw. 
 
 
The letter, sent by the military to the head of the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, on 2 September 2014
 
 
A letter dated 2 September, sent by the military to the head of the TLHR, states: In order to follow the policy of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), the 1st Cavalry Squadron, King’s Guard, as the agency assigned to enforce law and order in Pathumwan District, kindly asks for your cooperation in cancelling the activity. If there is any complaint from people who face problems accessing justice and exercising their freedom of expression, or any recommendation related to human rights, please contact the Damrongtham Centre, under the Inspection and Grievances Bureau, Ministry of Interior (Hotline 1567).
 
Thailand is now ruled a military government, which has strictly enforced martial law to suppress freedom of expression and arbitrarily detain critics, academics and activists. 
 
The following is the statement from TLHR on the Tuesday incident:
 
A Statement from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights forwarded by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)
 
The Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) in collaboration with Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF) and Amnesty International Thailand was planning to organize a presentation of report on the situation of human rights “Access to Justice in Thailand: Currently Unavailable Human Rights Situation 100 Days after the Coup” today. But just yesterday, 1 September 2014, TLHR and other organizing organizations have been contacted and asked my Thailand’s military officials to cancel the event as they claimed the incumbent situation is still abnormal. We were told as well that if we persist to organize the event, we will face charges for violating the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Announcement no. 7/2557 which prohibits any political assembly of five people upwards. TLHR wants to make our stand clear regarding the behaviour of the Thai authorities as follows:
 
1. The presentation of report on the situation of human rights “Access to Justice in Thailand: Currently Unavailable Human Rights Situation 100 Days after the Coup” is an attempt to shed light on obstacles to access to justice in the aftermath of the coup in Thailand. It is not a political gathering. TLHR has been established to receive complaints and provide legal aid to detainees, and we are simply performing our duties as lawyers and human rights activists. Given that Martial Law has still been imposed and it provides draconian power to the officials, an effort to monitor the situation and disseminate information to society is therefore indispensable.
 
2. The right to freedom of expression is a fundamental human right enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Thailand is a state party and is obliged to observe. After all, NCPO has been telling the press that it respects human rights principles. Also, Section 4 of the 2014 Interim Constitution written by NCPO itself provides for protection of human dignity, rights, liberty and equality of all Thailand people in accordance with the Constitutional practice in the democratic regime of government with the King as Head of the State and any existing international obligations should therefore be respected as per the Constitution. Any attempt to prevent a public event to discuss about human rights from happening is a gross violation of such rights and liberties.
 
3. Apart from being a direct intimidation to lawyers and rights activists, the attempt by the military authorities to “ask for cooperation” to cancel or postpone the event and the reiteration that if the organizers decide to press ahead with the event, they shall face prosecution for violating the NCPO Announcement which bans any political gathering, will also perpetuate the climate of fear in society and will lead to further infringement of human rights and the chance the affected families shall be accorded with justice and remedies. Such a consequence seems contradictory to the image the NCPO has tried to project by claiming that they have been performing their duties with due respect to human rights. It also highlights the grave human rights situation as of now.
 
The Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) condemns the intimidation by security officials and as an advocate of legal and human rights, we shall persist to uphold our duties as a lawyer to protect the people’s rights and liberties. We shall make an effort to present the report on human rights situation to mark 100 days after the coup via other channels in order to ensure that voices of the people and their families whose human rights have been abused shall continue to be heard and that they shall be bestowed on with truth and justice as well as to uphold people’s rights and liberties in general. TLHR would also insist on proposing the following recommendations as mentioned on our current report on the situation of human rights that:
 
  1. Martial Law which is being imposed countrywide should be revoked.
  2. No persons shall be subjected to apprehension, arrest and detention invoking Martial Law.
  3. Any restriction to curb the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly should be lifted.
  4. No civilians should be tried in the military court.
 
With respect to the people’s rights and liberties
Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR)