Freedom of expression unnecessary for Thailand: deputy junta head

The deputy junta head has said now is not a proper time to demand freedom of expression since the country is in a ‘transition period,’ adding that the arrests of the anti-junta activists were not human rights violations.
 
On Wednesday, 29 June 2016, Gen Prawit Wongsuwan, the deputy junta head told the media that freedom of expression was not necessary for Thailand at this time since the country was in a so-called ‘transition period’, adding that the junta never suppressed discussion of the August referendum but everything must be done through the junta-provided channels, Matichon Online reported.
 
“This is a transition period. There will be a lot of time to talk about freedom after the charter draft is ratified. We’re now in need of peace and order. So don’t ask me again. If anyone breaches the law, I will catch them all,” Prawit said.      
 
After seven student activists from the New Democracy Movement (NDM) were arrested and later detained last week for campaigning for a ‘no’ vote in the August referendum, many sectors, including student activists, academics, labour unions and human rights organizations, have urged the junta to drop charges against the activists and asked for a political climate that is more free and fair, saying that the arrests are obviously human rights violations.
 
In response to the issue, Prawit said the arrests were not considered human rights violations since the activists breached the law first, adding that if the junta had not arrested them, there was no point in having the law, reported Matichon Online. 
 
“Don’t think that way. I didn’t arrest students, I arrested lawbreakers. There’s the law and I do everything in accordance with the law,” Prawit said.
 
 
Gen Prawit Wongsuwan (source: Matichon Online)