Junta praises itself on human rights

Despite the junta’s crackdowns on political dissent and the imposition of the martial law, the Thai Foreign Minister said at a UN human rights meeting that Thailand has given much importance to human rights in its attempt to maintain national security.

Gen Thanasak Patimaprakorn, the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, who represented Thailand at the 28th United Nations Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, on 4 March 2015, said before the meeting that Thailand paid attention to human rights, which apply to everyone equally.  

“I stated before the meeting in confirmation that Thailand has given great importance to human rights to create national stability and make people, such as children, women, the disabled, the old and even migrant labour enjoy comfortable living standards and equal rights. This includes illegal migrant labourers, 1.6 million of whom have now been legally registered. This has been praised by the international community as migrant labour will be protected and able to enjoy public services justly,” Thai News Agency quoted Gen Thanasak as saying.

Contrary to Gen Thanasak’s speech to the UN, Thailand, since the 2014 coup, has seen the highest number of lèse majesté prisoners in any period of Thai history, according to iLaw.

Recently, Patiwat S. and Pornthip M., two student activists, were recently sentenced to five years imprisonment for their involvement in ‘The Wolf Bride’, a political play allegedly defaming the monarchy. The jail term, however, was halved because the two pleaded guilty.

Brad Adams, Asia Director of Human Rights Watch, condemned the verdict. “The imprisonment of the two “Wolf Bride” play activists is yet another serious blow to freedom of expression in Thailand and another dark mark on Thailand’s already battered international reputation. Vowing to protect the monarchy, the NCPO junta has accelerated efforts to hunt down alleged lèse majesté actions and statements, and prosecuted people for peaceful expression of views, like conducting a play, posting online, or making a speech,” said Adams.

Since May 2014, the junta has used martial law to crack down vigorously on political dissidents who hold events in defiance of the junta. In 2014, people were arrested for merely displaying the three-fingered salute, an anti-coup symbol adopted from the Hunger Games movie.