Thai junta leader says Amnesty International encourages law breakers

The Thai junta leader has scolded Amnesty International’s campaign for Thai political dissidents, saying that the organization encourages people who have violated the law.

After the abduction of Sirawit Serithiwat, a pro-democracy student activist leader, last week, Amnesty International (AI) started a campaign calling on its members to send letters to Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, the junta leader and Prime Minister, and Don Pramudwinai, Minister of Foreign Affairs, to demand that the regime drop charges against Sirawit and other dissidents.

According to the Thai News Agency, yesterday, 25 January 2016, the junta leader said in response to the AI campaign that certain human rights organizations were ill-informed about the situation in Thailand and got their information from distorted media reports.

“[It’s the] enforcement of the law against law breakers. Please, don’t mix them up. Law is law and I have already talked about this in the past. It’s up to [you] to believe what I said or not. Don’t mix up human rights issues with the law and personal issues with those of the country,” the Thai News Agency quoted Gen Prayut as saying.

In a similar vein, Gen Prawit Wongsuwan, Deputy PM and Minister of Defense, said in response to the campaign that there have been no human rights violations since his government came to power and that the primary concern of the government is to maintain peace and order.

Last Wednesday, Sirawit was abducted and reportedly abused by eight military officers before he was transferred to Nimit Mai Police Station. Three other activists were detained by police the next morning after they went to give him moral support.

Despite the fact that the Military Court of Bangkok earlier issued arrest warrants for the activists, the court released them last Thursday. The charges against them, however, have not been dropped.

After the abduction of Sirawit and allegations of abuse while in military custody, many rights organizations, including Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), Amnesty International (AI), and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), have voiced concerns about the arrests and charges laid against the activists.

Sirawit and five other activists are currently facing arrest warrants for violating the junta’s National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Order No. 3/2015, which prohibits political gatherings of five or more persons, for participating in a failed excursion to Rajabhakti Park in Prachuap Khiri Khan Province on 7 December 2015 to investigate corruption allegations at the park.