Thailand: Death threats against Mr. Lertsak Kumkongsak, environmental rights defender

25/09/2020
Urgent Appeal

THA 004 / 0920 / OBS 105
Death threats
Thailand
September 25, 2020

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Thailand.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about death threats against Mr. Lertsak Kumkongsak, advisor of the Campaign for Public Policy on Mineral Resources (PPM), coordinator of the Ecological and Cultural Study Group, and advisor of the Network of People Who Own Mineral Resources[1].

According to the information received, since August 13, 2020, Mr. Lertsak Kumkongsak has been receiving serious and repeated death threats in relation to his support to the blockade of a quarry mining site in Dongmafai Subdistrict, Suwannakuha District, Nong Bua Lamphu Province, northeastern Thailand. Mr. Lertsak Kumkongsak has been verbally threatened by people believed to have ties to the mining company, that he would be killed if he did not stop protesting against the mining operations. Mr. Lertsak Kumkongsak has also been approached several times by unidentified people carrying guns and other weapons, and has also been monitored.

Since August 13, 2020, the entrance of the quarry mine has been occupied by the Community of Khao Lao Yai-Pha Jun Dai Forest Conservation Group in an attempt to permanently shut down mining operations. This environmental community-based group has been campaigning since 1994 for the closure of the mine site, which hinders the villagers’ access to food in the nearby community forest and whose daily explosions are causing noise pollution and damages to nearby households of approximately 4,000 people. Between 1995 and 1999, four members of the community were killed for opposing the construction of the mine.

The Observatory expresses its utmost concern over the death threats received by Mr. Lertsak Kumkongsak, which seem to be only aimed at stopping him from carrying out his legitimate human rights activities.

The Observatory calls on the Thai authorities to carry out an independent, thorough, impartial, and transparent investigation into these threats in order to identify those responsible and bring them before an independent, competent and impartial court. The Observatory also calls upon the Thai authorities to take all necessary measures to ensure the physical integrity of Mr. Lertsak Kumkongsak.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Thailand asking them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Mr. Lertsak Kumkongsak and all other human rights defenders in Thailand, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals;

ii. Carry out an independent, thorough, impartial, and transparent investigation into the death threats against Mr. Lertsak Kumkongsak in order to identify those responsible and sanction them in accordance with the law;

iii. Ensure that an end be put to all acts of harassment against Mr. Lertsak Kumkongsak, and all human rights defenders in the country;

iv. Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular Articles 1, 5, 6 and 12.

v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments to which Thailand is a State party.

Addresses:

• Mr. Prayuth Chan-ocha, Prime Minister of Thailand, Email: spmwebsite@thaigov.go.th
• Mr. Don Pramudwinai, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, Email: minister@mfa.go.th
• Mr. Somsak Thepsutin, Minister of Justice of Thailand, Email: complainingcenter@moj.go.th
• Gen Apirut Kongsompong, Commander in Chief of the Royal Thai Army, Email: webadmin@rta.mi.th
• Pol Gen Chaktip Chaijinda, Commissioner-General of the Royal Thai Police, Email: info@royalthaipolice.go.th
• Mr. Prakairat Tanteerawong, National Human Rights Commissioner of Thailand, Email: Prakairatana@nhrc.or.th / Prakairatanao@yahoo.com
• H.E. Mr. Thani Thongphakdi, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Thailand to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Email: mission.thailand@ties.itu.int
• Embassy of Thailand in Brussels, Belgium, Email: thaibxl@pophost.eunet.be

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Thailand in your respective countries.

***
Paris-Geneva, September 25, 2020

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.
 
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
• E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
• Tel and fax FIDH +33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
• Tel and fax OMCT +41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / +41 22 809 49 29


[1] The Network of People Who Own Mineral Resources is a network that monitors development projects related to mineral resources by the state and by the business sector.

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