Thailand: Junta’s promise to lift restrictions by June is not enough

As the date draws near for the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to fulfil its promise to lift restrictions on political activities in June 2018, in place since the military coup of 22 May 2014, Katherine Gerson, Amnesty International’s Campaigner on Southeast Asia, said:
“The sweeping and wholly unjustified restrictions on human rights put in place by the NCPO in the wake of the coup were supposed to be exceptional and temporary measures. Four years on and countless abuses later, they remain firmly in place and are relentlessly deployed by authorities.
“After backtracking on previous promises, it’s vital that the NCPO delivers on its pledge to lift restrictions on political activities by June. But, taken alone, this move goes nowhere near far enough.
“Authorities continue to flagrantly use deeply repressive laws and decrees to target human rights defenders, activists and political opponents peacefully exercising their human rights to freedom of expression association and assembly. These laws must be lifted without delay. Hundreds of people should not be facing criminal proceedings for voicing their opinions and joining peaceful protests.”
Responding to the news that fifteen people have been detained by police and charged on 23 May with a range of offences, including sedition, for taking part in peaceful protests in Bangkok to mark the fourth anniversary of the military coup in Thailand, Gerson said:
“Detaining and charging peaceful protesters makes a mockery of the promise that authorities will lift political restrictions within the next month. This is not the move of a government that is willing to allow the peaceful expression of dissenting views.
“Thai authorities must immediately and unconditionally drop all charges and release these men and women, as well as others who remain behind bars for no more than peacefully exercising their human rights.
“The NCPO must stop misusing the criminal justice system as a tool to suppress dissent and to harass human rights defenders, activists and political opponents.”
Background
Since the military coup on 22 May 2014, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) – the ruling military governing body – has systematically suppressed political opposition and criticism, including the peaceful activities of activists and human rights defenders, and made “political” gatherings of five or more people illegal.
Amnesty International is calling on the Thai authorities to guarantee an environment in which all people are free to peacefully gather, express and exchange opinions. The Thai authorities must drop all charges against peaceful activists and those in prison must be released immediately and unconditionally.

The pro-election protest on 22 May at Thammasat University in commemoration of the 4th anniversary of the 2014 Coup