UN concerned by arrests of 13 activists in Thailand

We are concerned by the arrests of 13 activists in Thailand who were detained for defying a military order banning political gatherings of five or more people. Eight of those arrested on June 23 in Bang Plee Industrial Area in Samut Prakarn Province, south of Bangkok, were students affiliated with the New Democracy Movement (NDM). The three others were labour rights activists. At the time of their arrest, they were distributing leaflets related to the upcoming referendum on the draft Constitution. Eight of the activists are due to face a military court, while the five others have been released on bail. 
 
On June 24, seven student activists were arrested at Kasetsart University in Bangkok. They were detained for allegedly holding an event related to the referendum. Under the Referendum Act, campaigning for or against the draft Constitution is forbidden. 
 
Earlier this month, UN Human Rights Chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein repeated his calls for a "free, fair and dynamic public debate on the draft constitution". He added that the people of Thailand have a right to discuss – and to criticise – decisions about their country. 
 
The South-East Asia Regional Office is also concerned by the disproportionate use of force used in conducting the arrests on June 23 and 24. In one case security officials dragged an NDM activist by his neck. 
 
Our Office urges the authorities to immediately release without charge those being held in relation to the two incidents.