Thailand: Harassment of eight defenders for their involvement in the ‘We Walk for Friendship’ march

25/01/2018
Urgent Appeal

THA 001 / 0118 / OBS 010
Judicial harassment /
Restrictions on freedom
of peaceful assembly
Thailand
January 25, 2018

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.

Brief description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the intimidation and harassment of Mr. Lertsak Kumkongsak, Mr. Nimit Tieudom, Ms. Nutchanart Thanthong, Mr. Jumnong Nupian, Mr. Somchai Grajanseang, Ms. Sangsiri Teemanka, Mr. Anusorn Aunno, and Mr. Ubon Yuwa, for their involvement in the organisation of the ‘We Walk for Friendship’ march [1].

According to the information received, on January 23, 2018, Lieutenant Colonel Prusit Khalyhiran issued arrest warrants for the eight above-mentioned human rights defenders on charges of violating National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Order 3/2015 for their involvement in the organisation of the ‘We Walk for Friendship’ march. The march aims to highlight and denounce a number of human rights violations in Thailand, including the increased restrictions on freedom of expression under NCPO rule.

On January 20, 2018, three teams of four persons each, mostly made up of women, set out on three separate walks from the Thammasat University campus in Rangsit, Pathum Thani Province, near Bangkok, to Khon Kaen (approximately 450 kilometres). The walk is ongoing and is scheduled to conclude on February 17, 2018 in Khon Kaen.

The eight are accused of breaching Article 12 of NCPO Order 3/2015, which bans political gatherings of more than four people and prescribes prison terms of up to six months or a 10,000 baht (approximately 256 Euros) fine, or both, for violators. They are scheduled to appear at the Klong Luang police station in Pathum Thani on January 28, 2018.

In a separate incident, on January 21, 2018, police briefly detained Ms. Visinee Boontee and Messrs. Nitikorn Kamchu, Jaturavit Pandam, and Achom Srimutta, four other organisers of the ‘We Walk for Friendship’ march, for interrogation at the Sub-District Administrative Organization Office in Lamsai, Ayutthaya Province. The four had no access to any lawyers during their detention and were released without charges.

The Observatory condemns the intimidation and judicial harassment of the above-mentioned human rights defenders, and urges the Thai authorities to immediately drop all charges against them and put a stop to their judicial harassment, which seems to only aim at sanctioning their legitimate human rights activities.

Actions requested:

Please write to the Thai authorities asking them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of the above-mentioned human rights defenders, as well as that of all human rights defenders in Thailand;

ii. Put an end to any kind of harassment - including at the judicial level - against members of the ‘We Walk for Friendship’ march, as well as against 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;

iii. Guarantee in all circumstances the freedoms of movement, peaceful assembly and association of all human rights defenders in Thailand;

iv. Conform to the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, in particular with Articles 1, 5(b) and 12.2;

v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Thailand.

Addresses:

· Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, Prime Minister of Thailand, Fax: +66 (0) 2 282 5131
· Mr. Don Pramudwinai, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, Fax: +66 (0) 2 643 5320; Email: minister@mfa.go.th
· Air Chief Marshal Prajin Juntong, Minister of Justice of Thailand, Fax: +66 (0) 2 953 0503
· Pol Gen Chaktip Chaijinda, Commissioner-General of the Royal Thai Police, Fax: +66 (0) 2 251 5956 / +66 (0) 2 251 8702
· Mr. Wat Tingsamit, Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand, Email: help@nhrc.or.th
· H.E. Mr. Thani Thongphakdi, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Thailand to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 715 10 00 / 10 02; Email: mission.thailand@ties.itu.int
· Embassy of Thailand in Brussels, Belgium, Fax: +32 2 648 30 66; Email: thaibxl@pophost.eunet.be

Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of Thailand in your respective country.

***
Paris-Geneva, January 25, 2018

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 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:
· Email: 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

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