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Crackdown violates Thai govt’s international obligations, rights group warns
NationalOct 15. 2020
By The Nation
Amnesty International has condemned the government’s overnight crackdown on peaceful protests, slamming its ban on gatherings as a “drastic” escalation of authorities’ onslaught on freedom of expression.
Responding to news that the Thai authorities have ordered a ban on gatherings of five or more people in Bangkok and on sharing information that “could create fear”, Amnesty International’s deputy regional director for campaigns, Ming Yu Hah, said:
“This vague, drastic order will lead to more people unfairly arrested, detained and prosecuted.
“With further public assemblies expected to happen today, we urge the Thai authorities to engage in constructive dialogue with the protesters.
“The scale of today’s early morning arrests seems completely unjustified based on yesterday’s [Wednesday] events. The assemblies were overwhelmingly peaceful. These moves are clearly designed to stamp out dissent, and sow fear in anyone who sympathises with the protesters’ views.”
He urged authorities to release the protesters immediately and unconditionally, and give those detained access to legal counsel.
“Instead of ruling by decree and mass arrests, the Thai authorities must reverse course.
They must comply with their international obligations to respect the rights of anyone who simply wishes to peacefully speak their mind, on social media or in the streets,” he said.
According to news reports, at least 20 protesters were arrested in the early hours of Thursday for allegedly violating the state of emergency ostensibly used to control Covid-19.
At least 21 more, including prominent activist Jatupat “Pai Dao Din” Boonpattararaksa, were arrested on Tuesday.
Amnesty International urged the authorities at the time not to use the state of emergency to violate human rights.