Thailand: Ongoing judicial harassment against 11 activists

18/01/2016
Urgent Appeal
Guillaume Payen / ANADOLU AGENCY

THA 001 / 0116 / OBS 008
Arbitrary arrest / Release /
Restrictions to freedom of movement /
Ongoing judicial harassment
Thailand
January 18, 2016

Picture caption: The leader of the "members of the League of Liberal Thammasat for Democracy" Sirawith Seritiwat having a press conference on December 08, 2015 after pro-democracy activists arrested at Ratchaburi’s Ban Pong Railway Station near the Hua Hin city.

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

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the ongoing judicial harassment against 11 activists, i.e., Mr. Sirawit Seritiwat, Mr. Anon Nampa, Ms. Chonthicha Jaeung-Rew, Ms. Chanoknan Ruamsap, Mr. Thanet Anantawong, Mr. Kititituch Suman, Mr. Wisarut Anukulkanm, Mr. Abhisit Sapnaphapan, Mr. Korakot Saengyenpan, Ms. Kornkanok Khumta, and Mr. Vichit Hanhaboon.

According to the information received, on December 7, 2015, military authorities arrested 36 people, including student activists during a train ride from Bangkok to Hua Hin, Prachuab Kirikhan Province. Their “advocacy trip”, named “the Train Ride to Shed Light on Fraud at the Rajabhakti Park”, sought to demand the opening of an investigation into alleged corruption in the construction of the military-sponsored Rajabhakti Park in Prachuab Kirikhan Province.

On their way to Hua Hin, the activists were stopped at Baan Pong train station, Ratchaburi province, where 36 of them were arrested. They were subsequently taken in military custody to the 9th Infantry Regiment Command, a temporary military unit in Putthamonthon Buddhist Park, Nakhon Pathom. The military officers claimed to have arrested and detained them in accordance with NCPO Order No. 3/2015, which imposes a ban on political gatherings of five or more persons without a prior official authorization [1].

While in custody, some officers recorded their personal data and forced them to sign a pledge vowing they would not join any political movement again in the future and that they would not leave the country without the authorities’ prior permission. Lawyers were denied access to the detainees throughout their detention. All were released on the same day.

However, 11 activists refused to sign the pledge, and were therefore accused of violating NCPO Order No. 3/2015.

On December 29, 2015, the 11 activists who had refused to sign the pledge were summoned by the Thonburi Railway police. The Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) [2], an organization that provides legal representation to the activists, submitted a letter on behalf of nine of them to postpone the summons to January 8, 2016, on the grounds that the latter would not be able to show up on that date due to other ongoing judicial proceedings against them amongst others [3]. Accordingly, the Thonburi Railway police allowed the adjournment as requested.

On December 29, only two of the 11 summoned activists appeared. Messrs. Kititituch Suman and Vichit Hanhaboon denied all charges. Mr. Vichit Hanhaboon was asked to submit an additional written defense statement to the police regarding the circumstances of the events within January 15, 2016.

On January 8, 2016, three more activists, Mr. Anon Nampa, Mr. Wisarut Anukulkanm, and Ms. Kornkanok Khumta, appeared at the police station and similarly denied all charges.

On January 13, 2016, arrest warrants were issued by the Bangkok Military Court for the six remaining activists who had failed to appear at the police station on January 8 as summoned.

If indicted by military prosecutor, the 11 activists will face trial before a military court, and could face up to six months of imprisonment and/or a fine not exceeding 10,000 Baht (approximately 250 Euros), for violations of NCPO Order No. 3/2015.

The Observatory strongly condemns the ongoing judicial harassment against the 11 activists, since it appears to only aim at sanctioning their legitimate human rights activities, as well as their freedom of assembly, association and expression, as enshrined in international human rights instruments.

Accordingly, the Observatory calls on the Thai authorities to put an end to the ongoing attempts to criminalise the 11 activists, as well as to put its legislation on gatherings in line with international human rights standards ratified by Thailand.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities in Thailand, urging them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of the 11 activists, as well as of all human rights defenders in the country;

ii. Drop immediately and unconditionally all charges against the 11 activists, as they only seem to be aimed at sanctioning his legitimate human rights activities;

iii. Put an end to all acts of harassment - including at the judicial level - against the 11 activists, as well as against all human rights defenders in Thailand so that they are able to carry out their work without hindrances;

iv. Repeal NCPO Order No. 3/2015, which contravenes Thailand’s human rights obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR);

v. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially:

- Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”; and

- Article 12.2, which provides that “"the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”; and

vi. More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with international and regional human rights instruments ratified by Thailand.

Addresses:

Prime Minister, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, Government House, 1 Phitsanulok Road, Dusit, 10300, Bangkok, THAILAND; Fax: +66 (0) 2 282 5131
Minister of Interior, Gen Anupong Paochinda, Asatang Road, Ratchabophit, 10200, Bangkok, THAILAND
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Don Pramudwinai, Sri Ayutthaya Building, 443 Sri Ayutthaya Road, Phaya Thai, 10400, Bangkok, THAILAND; Fax: +66 (0) 2 643 5320; Email: minister@mfa.go.th
Minister of Justice, Gen Paiboon Khumchaya, 120 Chaeng Watthana Road, Laksi, 10210, Bangkok, THAILAND; Fax: +66 (0) 2 953 0503
Pol Gen Somyot Poompanmoung, Commissioner-General of the Royal Thai Police, 1st Building, 7th Floor, Rama I Road, Pathumwan, 10330, Bangkok, THAILAND; Fax: +66 (0) 2 251 5956 / +66 (0) 2 251 8702
Mr. Wat Tingsamitr, Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand; 120 Chaeng Watthana Road, Laksi, 10210, Bangkok, THAILAND; Email: help@nhrc.or.th
Permanent Mission of Thailand to the United Nations in Geneva, rue Gustave Moynier 5, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland, Tel: + 41 22 715 10 10; Fax: + 41 22 715 10 00 / 10 02; Email:mission.thailand@ties.itu.int
Embassy of Thailand in Brussels, 2 Sq. du Val de la Cambre, 1050 Ixelles, Belgium, Tel: + 32 2 640 68 10; 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.

Geneva-Paris, January 18, 2016

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

The Observatory, an OMCT and FIDH venture, is dedicated to the protection of human rights defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29
Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
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