Activists receive threats ahead of ASEAN Peoples’ Forum

Sirisak Chaited, an LGBT rights activist, said she has received a threatening email ahead of the ASEAN Peoples’ Forum (APF) on 10 – 12 September, while Siyeed Alam, chair of the Rohingya Association in Thailand, said he has been contacted by Special Branch officers.

On Saturday (7 September), Sirisak posted on her Facebook page that she had received an email from an anonymous sender requesting “co-operation in peaceful communication” and asking her to discuss human rights in the APF meeting “without affecting the image of the country and other ASEAN members.”

The email also said that “we understand the current situation. Speaking the truth directly is something that should happen, but in certain situations, we need to think of the collective interest both at the national and the ASEAN level too, especially when criticizing issues that may affect the image of our country or may cause conflicts between nations."

"We hearby request your cooperation. This is also because we are concerned for your safety and that of the people in this country and in other ASEAN member states."

Siyeed Alam, chair of the Rohingya Association in Thailand, also said that Special Branch officers had contacted him to get information on members of the Rohingya community who are attending the APF. Officials have called him asking to schedule a meeting and to photograph his “0 Card” or the identity card for persons without registration status.

Meanwhile, the Forum was moved from the Berkeley Hotel Pratunam to the Rangsit campus of Thammasat University after the organizing committee refused funding of around 10 million baht from the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, citing as their reason interference from security officials in, for example, requesting for a list of overseas participants. However, the Director of the Foreign Affairs Division of the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security said that the Ministry is unable to issue funding since the organizers did not provide them with a list of participants. The Ministry is also organizing a parallel ASEAN Peoples’ Forum at the Berkeley Hotel Pratunam on 9 – 12 September.