On 19 November, Thai people in New York gathered at the United Nations Headquarters to support the pro-democracy movement in Thailand and submit an open letter condemning the illegitimate use of force against peaceful protesters at the 17th November protest at Parliament.
Participants at the event in New York. One can be seen raising the 3-finger salute, the anti-dictatorship gesture of protesters in Thailand.
The group called themselves ‘Thai New Yorkers For Democracy’, and Thai-Americans and New Yorkers set up placards, banners and Thai flags. They also went to the Peace Monument, a public landmark across from the UN HQ, to communicate to the people about what is happening in Thailand.
Flur, 27, a New Yorker activist in the Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ movements said that there is no reason not to have the ability to exercise rights, and claim democracy and the right to choose their leaders.
Jay Jay, 37, a Thai-American citizen and the group’s Facebook page administrator who has been in the US for 13 years, said he rallied to send his support to the movement in Thailand and oppose the state use of force against the protesters on 17 November.
“...We love and care for everyone in Thailand and want to see everybody have a better life, so we have come.
“For the government action against the protesters, I think it’s too violent and should never have happened because the protests were orderly and peaceful, unlike the regular protests that we used to see that involved violence and ran the risk of causing injury and death”, said Jay.”
Jay also said the only way out of the situation is for the state to accept the protesters’ demands. The monarchy must also be under the constitution as it is a universal principle. If the monarchy wants to co-exist in society, it must live under the same rules.
Participants making a poster.
Many bystanders also paid attention and asked about the situation in Thailand. A female police officer who had visited Thailand as a tourist also sent her support for Thais to achieve democracy.
Due to limitations caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the group coordinator was unable to have UN officials come out to receive the letter. They then submitted the letter via email and dispersed at 16.00 NYC time.
Condemnation of Illegitimate Use of Force Against Peaceful Protesters
On the 17th of November 2020, Thai authorities used excessive force to disperse protesters rallying towards the parliament building. This consisted of repeated use of tear-gas, high-pressure water cannons mixed with irritable chemicals and rubber bullets.
Additionally, pro-monarchy counter protesters assaulted the protesters with rocks, wooden boards, flag poles, and firearms. Both incidents ultimately resulted in several injured, including children, students, adults, Buddhist monks, elderly people, and medical staff. The pro-monarchy counter protesters were not charged by the Thai authorities nor were they imprisoned or held accountable for their crimes of battery, assault, and deadly use of firearms.
Thailand is a signatory of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and has made a commitment to uphold the principles of free human beings with civil and political freedoms and the obligation to promote universal respect for and observance of human rights including the right to peaceful assembly under Article 21, the right to hold opinions without interference under Article 19, and the right to freedom of association under Article 22. The Thai government has not upheld these international obligations.
Members of Thai New Yorkers for Democracy therefore condemn the illegitimate and excessive use of force against these peaceful protesters and urge the Thai government and parliament to:
1. Cease all forms of violent action to disperse peaceful demonstrations
2. Listen to the people without discrimination regarding political perspectives
3. Administer the law impartially and humanely treat citizens without discrimination and bias based on their political perspectives
4. Re-consider adopting the constitutional draft and establish a constituent assembly immediately in order to accomplish a resolution of political conflicts in Thailand.
Thai New Yorkers for Democracy
Note: As of 23 November, it has been impossible to confirm the police use of rubber bullets.