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Open letter calls for free and fair election in Thailand

Dear Thai people,

Since 2014 Thailand has been under the power of a military junta called the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO). Prior to the coup d’état, the military junta conspired with an undemocratic group to destroy democracy without regard to the rule of law, claiming the takeover was in the name of unity. Without any justification for its power, the junta has been extensively violating human rights, ignoring the well-being of Thai citizens, and damaging the economy for the benefit of its cronies. Not only have these actions degraded our reputation, honour and dignity, but they have also disconnected Thailand from the global community. Thailand has lost the chance to improve its prosperity as the head of the junta is incompetent at negotiating bilateral deals with his counterparts. As a result, the benefits are shared only among a handful of rapacious capitalists, enabling them to slowly devour the Thai economy.

As of now, Thailand will hold a general election on 24th February 2019. Despite the revocation of some of the junta’s orders (through Order 22/2561) so as to create “an election atmosphere ”, the situation remains the same. Many civilians are being harassed by the authoritarian regime for exposing its corruption. Election fraud by pro-military parties is widespread thanks to the negligence of the Election Commission of Thailand. Buying votes for a junta-affiliated party with public money is practiced on a regular basis while citizens who speak up are harassed by the authorities. All in all, the junta’s fear of losing its power has been shown through misuse of public money to “legally” buy votes for a junta-affiliated party, election fraud, abuse of power, as well as harassment of civilians.

The junta’s ongoing abuses of power connote the government’s flagrant determination to maintain its power. A free and fair election cannot thus be guaranteed. The fact that the junta group, together with the cabinet, is not taking a neutral position is worsening the electoral situation. The government has been instilling fear and seeking its own advantage to distort the election results. Therefore, regarding the upcoming election, we hereby put forward our demands as follows:

 

1) We call for the immediate revocation of Article 44 of the Interim Constitution of Thailand.

2) The military government must stop using public money in economic policies that are orchestrated within the NCPO circle and allow the public and other organizations to monitor the government.

3) The military government must stop interfering with independent constitutional organizations, especially the Election Commission, and special administrative organizations so as to benefit the NCPO circle.

4) Ministers in the junta cabinet, including the Minister of Industry, the Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office, the Minister of Science and Technology, and the Minister of Commerce, must resign immediately because they have joined the Phalang Pracharat political party and the cabinet must become a caretaker cabinet.

5) The military government must allow international organizations, NGOs, and civil society to freely observe the election.

Yours sincerely, 

Network of Thai students and International Scholars in Taiwan for Democracy in Thailand