Thai government must revoke the state of emergency decree

Press release

FIDH, its member organization Union for Civil Liberty (UCL), and the Justice for Peace Foundation (JPF) today urge the Thai government to immediately revoke the state of emergency declared for Bangkok and neighboring areas.

FIDH, UCL, and JPF believe that the existing laws are adequate to deal with the current situation, to arrest and charge those responsible for acts of violence, and to protect people’s lives without the need to impose a state of emergency.

The imposition of the state of emergency is an excessive measure that risks exacerbating existing tensions. That government must continue to explore ways to solve the ongoing political crisis though dialogue and negotiation, ” said FIDH President Karim Lahidji. “ Protest leaders must become part of the solution and not part of the problem and increase efforts to constructively engage with the government, ” Mr. Lahidji added.

On 21 January, the Thai government issued a 60-day state of emergency decree for Bangkok, the neighboring province of Nonthaburi, and two districts in the capital’s surrounding provinces of Pathumthani and Samut Prakan. The government imposed the state of emergency in response to a wave of anti-government street protests that have hit Bangkok since early November 2013. Anti-government demonstrations have been largely peaceful. However, clashes between police and protestors in December 2013, as well as grenade attacks and shootings against anti-government demonstrators in the past few weeks have resulted in 10 people being killed and over 550 injured since the start of the protests.

The decree bans public gatherings of more than five people and authorizes the suppression of news broadcasts or media reports inciting violence. The decree also authorizes law enforcement agencies to detain persons suspected of being involved in acts of violence for 30 days. In addition, it grants immunity from criminal prosecution to government agencies and officials involved in the enforcement of the decree.

The present anti-government rallies are political protests, not a terrorist threat, nor a threat to the stability of the state, nor a threat to public security. The government’s response to the demonstrations must be political and peaceful ,” JPF Chairwoman Angkhana Neelaphaijit said. “ The government must refrain from prohibiting peaceful assembly and from threatening to censor media ,” Ms. Angkhana added.

In the current political climate, all sides must seek to overcome mutual hatred and accusations, gender oppression, and the atmosphere of enmity. The solution must be based on tolerance and acceptance of opposing views, so that Thailand may return to normality as fast as possible ,” said UCL Chairman Jaturong Boonyarattanasoontorn.

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