Advisory on imminent developments in Thailand and an urgent request to news organizations

As you likely already know, the Thai political situation could transition any day now. Thailand’s King Bhumibol, the world’s 2nd oldest living monarch, is comatose or nearly so, being kept alive by extraordinary measures, with several recent reports of water being drained from his brain. The heir apparent, Prince Vajiralongkorn, is extremely unpopular. Indeed Economist Magazine reports that he is “widely loathed and feared” with “rumoured ties to the criminal underworld” and that diplomats have called him “unpredictable to the point of  eccentricity.” Asia Sentinel calls him “frighteningly erratic” and says he is “thoroughly detested in royal circles.” The prince is living up to that billing, with recent purges of his close associates including his recently divorced third wife, ex-Princess Sirasami, and her family, leaving at least four dead and others jailed or disappeared from sight; then this summer, the 63-year-old Prince showed up at the Munich Airport wearing low-slung jeans and a bizarre crop top, sporting fake tattoos all over his upper body, which did not help with his already negatively perceived image. If you search for information on either of these stories, you will see that not even the experts have a good guess as to what is going on in Thailand, or what will happen next.

Both King Bhumibol and Heir Apparent Vajiralongkorn are above the law, and the brutal lese majesty law prevents any insult to the King, Queen, or Crown Prince. “Insult” is so broadly defined even true statements can be defined as insults, and thus, in practice, the law forbids any discussion of the monarchy, except to repeat prescribed propaganda. For instance, you cannot share the pictures of Vajiralongkorn at the Munich Airport, or you or your family will be
visited by the police. And you definitely cannot ask whether democracy is really compatible with an erratic, cruel, and unaccountable King as Head of State.

The consequences of the archaic lese majesty law have been tragic, not just for the 50 to 100 people being jailed for lese majesty each year, but for Thailand as a whole. The biggest tragedy is that the citizens of Thailand have been frightened into silence and must continually suffer under governments they did not elect. The military junta that now runs Thailand has doubled down on the proposition that the Monarchy is essential to “Thainess” and the key to Thailand’s future; as
such, anyone who even suggests otherwise becomes a criminal.

In light of the above information, our organization is humbly asking your news organization to:

1) Prepare a eulogy for King Bhumibol as well as a second article on Prince Vajiralongkorn, the heir apparent—two intrinsically interesting stories.

2) Do so in a way that ignores Thailand’s lese majesty law, just as you would ignore a directive from the Chinese, Russian, or North Korean governments in reporting on those countries.

3) In the process of writing about Bhumibol and Vajiralongkorn, please draw attention to the brutal lese majesty law that ruins the lives of 50 to 100 people a year (people who are jailed for 3 to 15 years for a comment made in a taxi cab, in Facebook post, or a private text message). See the list of cases at Thaland’s iLaw.

4) In particular, we want you to ask after Vajiralongkorn’s ex-wife Sirasami and her jailed family members and bodyguards. Please force the Thai government to produce evidence to prove they are all still alive and well.

In short, we are urging your organization and the international community to speak freely about Thailand. Those living inside Thailand are severely restricted, so it is up to the international community to pursue these stories. We hope you can help break a taboo (operating in and outside Thailand) against discussions of the Thai monarchy, extend the international norm of free speech, and curb the brutal and rampant human rights abuses associated with lese majesty in Thailand.

Thank you for your reporting!

The Thai Alliance for Human Rights
Ann Norman, Executive Director
ann.norman@tahr-global.org

Snea Thinsan, Ph.D.
Chairman, Board of Directors & Co-Founder

Guide to the Thai junta’s Draft Constitution: The “human rights” sections

Don't worry about Human rights

I read an English translation of the junta’s proposed draft constitution for Thailand and highlighted some interesting parts. The bold headings are mine. The rest is, unfortunately, the actual proposed constitution:

Preamble: You the people, are to blame for our current predicament because you are uneducated and immoral:
Sometimes there have been constitutional crises with no solutions and partial causes thereof were attributed to the people who ignored or disobeyed administrative rules, corrupted or distorted power or did not recognize their responsibility to the nation and the public resulting in ineffective law enforcement. It is therefore of necessity to prevent and resolve these problems by means of educational reform and law enforcement and to strengthen a moral and ethical system. Another reason concerned the consequences of political and administrative rules that were not appropriate for the situation of the country and the time period, and attached importance to the format and procedure rather than the fundamental principles of democracy; . . . .

Good governance is based on finding “good people” to rule and not on institutional checks and balances:
. . . the placement of mechanisms to strictly prevent, monitor and eradicate corruption and misconduct – all are for the purpose of preventing leaders or officials of no morals, ethics and good governance from taking power in the administration of the country or exercising their power arbitrarily.

Thailand is special and needs to craft a special form of government that incorporates the word “democracy”:
To achieve this goal requires co-operation from people in all sectors with the State agencies according to the people-state concept under the rules pertaining to the principle of democratic and traditional governance suitable for the situation and the characteristics of Thai society, the integrity, the human rights and good governance principles which will drive the development of the country in a strategic way towards political, economic and social stability, prosperity and sustainability in compliance with the democratic regime of government with the King as Head of the State.

We already explained to you simple farm folk why you need to vote yes; now shut up and vote YES:
In the implementation thereof, the Constitution Drafting Committee has built public awareness and understanding of the principles and justifications of all provisions on a periodic basis so as to provide the opportunities for the public to widely access the Draft Constitution and its explanations through a variety of media and to allow public participation in the development of the content of the Draft by providing recommendations on the revision it so requires. Upon completion, the Draft Constitution has been disseminated to the public with the summary of explanations on its essence in a manner which enables the public to easily and generally understand it, and has organized a referendum to approve the entire Draft Constitution.

You are getting sleepy, very sleepy . . . Now turn off your brain:
The sovereign power belongs to the Thai people. The King as Head of the State shall exercise such power through the National Assembly, the Council of Ministers and the Courts in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.

We are making this up as we go along:
Whenever no provision under this Constitution is applicable to any case, . . . the President of the Constitutional Court shall convene a joint meeting of the President of the House of Representatives, the Opposition Leader in the House of Representatives, the President of the Senate, the Prime Minister, the President of the Supreme Court, the President of the Supreme Administrative Court, the President of the Constitutional Court, and the Presidents of Constitutional Organizations to make decision thereon. The joint meeting shall elect one among themselves to preside over each session. In case of the absence of any position holder, the joint meeting shall be composed of the existing holders of the positions.

Vajiralongkorn will magically become a god:
The King shall be enthroned in a position of revered worship and shall not be violated. No person shall expose the King to any sort of accusation or action.

All persons are equal before the law (some restrictions apply):
All persons are equal before the law and shall enjoy equal protection under the law. . . . Unjust discrimination against a person on the grounds of the difference in origin, race, language, sex, age, disability, physical or health condition, personal status, economic or social standing, religious belief, education or political view that does not violate the provisions of this constitution, or any other ground shall be prohibited.

A person has the liberty to practice state-approved religions:
A person shall enjoy full liberty to profess a religion, and shall enjoy the liberty to observe or perform rites according to own religion, provided that it shall not be prejudicial to the duties of Thai people, be harmful to the security of the State, and be contrary to the public order or good morals of people.

A person shall enjoy freedom of speech, unless we don’t like what you’re saying:
A person shall enjoy the liberty to express his opinion, make speech, write, print, publicize, and make expression by other means. Restriction on such liberty shall not be permitted, except by virtue of the provisions of the law specifically enacted for the purpose of maintaining the security of the State, protecting the rights or liberties of other persons, maintaining public order or good morals of people, or safeguarding the health of the people.

Academic freedom is guaranteed if the topic isn’t too sensitive:
Academic freedom shall be protected, provided that the exercise of such freedom shall not be contrary to the duties of Thai people or good morals of people and shall respect and not impede differing opinions of other persons.

We guarantee the right to peaceful assembly, just not right now or any time in the foreseeable future:
A person shall enjoy the liberty to assemble peacefully and without arms. Restriction on the liberty under Paragraph One shall be prohibited, except by virtue of the provisions of the law enacted for the purpose of maintaining the security of the State, public safety, public order or good morals of people, or protecting the rights or liberties of other persons.

Royalists can form political parties. Republicans, not so much . . . . :
A person shall enjoy the liberty to unite and establish a political party in conformity with democratic regime of government with the King as Head of the State, as required by law.

This again:
A person shall have the following duties: (1) to uphold the Nation, religions, the King, and the democratic regime of government with the King as Head of the State;

The army will protect the Royal Instituiton from the people:
The State shall protect and uphold the Royal Institution, the independence, the sovereignty, the territorial integrity and the territory under sovereignty of Thailand, the national prestige and interests, the security of the State, and the public order of people. For the purpose herein, the State shall arrange for the efficacy of armed forces, diplomacy and intelligence. The armed forces shall also serve in the national development.

“Sufficiency economy.” Check.
The State shall organize the economic system that allows people to comprehensively, fairly and sustainably benefit from economic growth and to become self-reliant according to the philosophy of sufficiency economy, . . .

The Ministry of Truth (just kidding! We’ll call it something else):
The State shall promote accurate knowledge and understanding of people and communities in relation to the democratic regime of government with the King as Head of the State, and their participation in various aspects of the national development, inpublic services at the national and the local levels, in examination of the exercise of State power, in combating the corruption and misconduct, in political decision making, and in all matters that may affect the people or the communities.

This sounds like an actual political function:
The King has the prerogative to dissolve the House of Representatives for a new election of members of the House.

A (self-?)appointed Senate:
The Senate shall consist of two hundred members selected among themselves of persons who possess knowledge, expertise, experience, profession, or common characteristic or interest, or who work or have worked in diverse fields of the society.

Senators cannot be politicians!
Members of the Senate shall have the qualifications and shall not fall under the prohibitions as described here under: . . . (4) being a member of a political party; (5) holding or having held any position in a political party, unless he or she has vacated office in the political party for not less than five years up to the date of application; . . . A member of the Senate shall not be sided with or yielded to the mandate of any political party.

Representatives cannot be Taksin Shinawatra:
A person falling under any of the following prohibitions shall have no right to be a candidate in an election of members of the House of Representatives: . . . (3) being the owner or a shareholder in newspaper business or any mass media; (4) being disfranchised from exercising the right to vote pursuant to Section 96 (1), (2) or (4); (5) being under temporary suspension of applying for candidacy in an election or having been revoked of the right to apply for candidacy in an election; (6) having been sentenced to imprisonment by a court and being detained by a court warrant; . . . (8) having been expelled from the official service, a State agency or a State enterprise on the ground of malfeasance or be regarded as corruption in the official service; (9) having been sentenced by a final judgment or order of a court to have his or her assets vested in the State on the ground of unusual wealth, or having been sentenced to imprisonment by a final judgment on the ground of committing an offence under the law on prevention and suppression of corruption; (10) having been convicted by a final judgment of a court for committing wrongful conduct in official duties or justice affairs, or committing an offence under the law on the wrongful acts of officials in State organizations or State agencies, or an offence against property in bad faith according the Criminal Code, or an offence under the law on (13) being sentenced to imprisonment by a final judgment of a court, notwithstanding the suspension of punishment . . .

More fun stuff to come. You can read an English-language translation of the Thai draft constitution at this link: http://www.khaosodenglish.com/politics/2016/06/28/whats-draft-constitution-actually-say-read-english/

Thailand: Drop Case Against Rights Defenders Military Criminal Complaint in Retaliation for Torture Report

https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/06/09/thailand-drop-case-against-rights-defenders

For Immediate Release:

Thailand: Drop Case Against Rights Defenders
Military Criminal Complaint in Retaliation for Torture Report

(New York, June 9, 2016) – The Thai military should immediately withdraw its criminal complaints against three human rights defenders for reporting alleged torture by government security forces in southern Thailand, Human Rights Watch said today.

The military’s actions pose a serious threat to all human rights monitoring and reporting in Thailand at a time when rights abuses are widespread in the country, Human Rights Watch said.

“The Thai military is targeting human rights activists for reporting grave abuses and standing up for victims,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The government should order these criminal complaints withdrawn and do what it should have done in the first place: seriously investigate the report’s allegations of torture.”

It was recently reported that on May 17, 2016, the military’s Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) Region 4 – which covers national security operations in the provinces along the southern border – filed a criminal complaint in Yala against prominent human rights activists Somchai Homlaor, Pornpen Khongkachonkie, and Anchana Heemmina. The complaint accuses the three of criminal defamation under the Penal Code and publicizing false information online under the Computer Crimes Act.

The complaint makes reference to the February report by the Cross Cultural Foundation, Duay Jai Group, and the Patani Human Rights Network that documents 54 cases in which Thai security personnel allegedly tortured and otherwise ill-treated ethnic Malay Muslim insurgent suspects between 2004 and 2015. If charged and convicted, the activists face up to five years in prison or a 100,000 baht (US$2,850) fine.

Thai authorities have an obligation to ensure that all people and organizations engaged in the protection and promotion of human rights are able to work in a safe and enabling environment, Human Rights Watch said. The right to file complaints about torture and mistreatment and to have the complaint promptly and impartially investigated is ensured under international treaties to which Thailand is party, including the Convention against Torture and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In addition, the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders affirms the prohibition against retaliation, threats, and harassment of anyone who takes peaceful action against human rights violations, both within and beyond the exercise of their professional duties.

The Thai military has a longstanding practice of dismissing allegations of torture and other serious abuses committed by security personnel in the southern border provinces, Human Rights Watch said. Thai authorities have also frequently retaliated against reporting of alleged rights abuses by filing lawsuits accusing critics of making false statements with the intent of damaging their reputation.

The military’s attempted use of a criminal complaint to retaliate against human rights defenders is contrary to Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-ocha’s recent promise to criminalize torture and fulfill Thailand’s international obligations against the practice, Human Rights Watch said.

Torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment are prohibited under international treaties and customary international law. The Convention against Torture, which Thailand ratified in 2007, obligates governments to investigate and prosecute acts of torture and other ill-treatment committed by government officials. However, the Thai government has yet to prosecute successfully any security personnel for abuses against ethnic Malay Muslims alleged to be involved in the insurgency.

In June 2014, the UN Committee Against Torture recommended Thailand “should take all the necessary measures to: (a) put an immediate halt to harassment and attacks against human rights defenders, journalists, and community leaders; and (b) systematically investigate all reported instances of intimidation, harassment and attacks with a view to prosecuting and punishing perpetrators, and guarantee effective remedies to victims and their families.”

Separatist insurgents in southern Thailand called the Patani Freedom Fighters (Pejuang Kemerdekaan Patani,) part of the loose network of BRN-Coordinate (Barisan Revolusi Nasional, or National Revolution Front-Coordinate), continue to maintain a presence in hundreds of villages despite significant setbacks in recent years. The insurgents use state-sponsored abuses and heavy-handed counterinsurgency tactics to recruit new members and justify their campaign of violence and terror, which has claimed more than 6,000 lives since fighting erupted in January 2004.

“Atrocities by separatist insurgents provide no justification for abuses by Thai security forces,” Adams said. “Covering up torture and other crimes by targeting human rights activists only undermines efforts to improve the security situation in the deep south.”

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Thailand, please visit:
http://www.hrw.org/thailand

For more information, please contact:
In Bangkok, Sunai Phasuk (English and Thai): +66-81-632-3052 (mobile); orphasuks@hrw.org. Twitter: @SunaiBKK
In San Francisco, Brad Adams (English): +1-347-463-3531 (mobile); or adamsb@hrw.org.Twitter @BradAdamsHRW
In Washington, DC, John Sifton (English): +1-646-479-2499 (mobile); or siftonj@hrw.org. Twitter @johnsifton

THAILAND: Supreme Administrative Court finds military official guilty of torture and orders compensation

FORWARDED PRESS RELEASE

AHRC-FPR-018-2016

A Press Release from Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF) forwarded by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

THAILAND: Supreme Administrative Court finds military official guilty of torture and orders compensation

(Songkla) May 18, 2016 marks an important date in the fight against torture in Thailand. The Supreme Administrative Court of Songkla read the official verdict ordering The Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) to pay 101,200 baht to Plaintiff no. 1 and 100,000 baht to Plaintiff no. 2 (with 7.5 % interest calculated from 2012) in damages for two victims who suffered torture/ill treatment in Yala Province. This will result in both Plaintiffs receiving approximately $5000 USD each. The verdict stems from an incident that took place over 7 years ago in 2009, when the injured parties were then 14 and 20 years old respectively. The case sets an important precedent, extending the right to claim for damages beyond the torture victims themselves to the family members who were also unduly affected as a result of the abuse.

Mr. Adil Samae, then 14 years old, and Mr. Mafoawsee Kwangboo, then 20 years old, were detained by a military patrol force on 11 April 2009. The arrest took place around Pattani River, Tambon Sateng, Yala district in the Yala province. During detention, the soldiers physically and verbally abused the young men.

A civil case was subsequently filed with Songkhla Administrative Court, demanding that the Defense Ministry, the Army, and Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) compensate the men for the harm suffered by the soldiers in their line of duty.

Prior to the commencement of the civil case, one of the accused officers pleaded guilty and was indicted on criminal charges by the Pattani Military Court for the physical assault that he launched against the two men. In light of his guilty plea, what would have otherwise been a two-year sentence was reduced by more than half to a six-month imprisonment and a 2,000 baht fine. This sentence was later suspended due to the actions of the first offender.

For more information, please contact;

Mr. Preeda Nakpew, attorney of the Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF), Tel: +668 9622 2474

# # #

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) works towards the radical rethinking and fundamental redesigning of justice institutions in order to protect and promote human rights in Asia. Established in 1984, the Hong Kong based organisation is a Laureate of the Right Livelihood Award, 2014.

Read this Forwarded Press Release online

 

Visit our website with more features at www.humanrights.asia.

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Thai Activist’s MOTHER sent to jail for NOT OBJECTING to a Facebook post. Happy Mother’s Day!

by Ann Norman

Ja New and Mother

Oh yes, we now have a lese majesty “offence” even more frivolous than liking a joke about the kings’s dog: The MOTHER of a prominent young activist arrested for failing to criticize her son’s friend when he sent her messages which someone has deemed insulting to the monarchy. The friend sent the message and said, “Don’t criticize me for saying all this.” And she replied, “Yeah.” So off to jail for up to 3 to 15 years for saying “yeah” on facebook rather than criticizing a comment. No bail because this is a “serious offense.” HAPPY MOTHER’S Day everyone!

On May 6, 2016, Patnaree Chankij, a widow and mother of 3, was hauled off to jail without bail for failing to criticize Burin Intin, a friend of her son, when he sent her the allegedly offensive Facebook messages. Burin had been arrested days earlier for lese majesty (Human Rights Watch, May 6, 2016). Keep in mind that the unmentionable content is very possibly something we in the West would consider innocuous: Any comment about the monarchy other than “I would die for the King!” is at this point considered treasonous. Lese majesty can mean mentioning true but inconvenient facts related to the monarchy. Lese majesty can mean complaining about the harshness of the lese majesty law itself. Lese majesty can mean insulting the Prince, who pretty much deserves any insult you can think up—just last year he divorced his third wife and threw her whole family in jail for lese majesty—with the bodyguards! And who would really blame these oppressed citizens if they actively railed against King Bhumipol himself, who has allowed about 100 people a year to go to jail to protect his once good name?

Also, whatever the comment that Burin Intin sent to Patnaree Chankij, we do not know that she even agreed with it. Like the word “yeah,” the word she used in Thai to respond to Burin’s comment can either mean “Yes” or just, “I’m listening to what you are saying.”

Her activist son, 23 year old Ja New, was shocked to hear of his mothers arrest, saying “My mother never talks politics, not to mention anything that could risk 112 [lese majesty].”

This is not the first time the junta has tried to get at Ja New through his mother. Last December the military came to her house to tell her to try to talk her son out of a planned political protest at Rajabhakti Park. As reported by Pravit Rojanaphruk:

“Soldiers dispatched by the military junta first tried to persuade her by offering to fix the leaking roof of her single-story, dilapidated house she rents in the capital’s Minburi district and promising scholarships for her children. It didn’t work. Patnaree said she respected her son’s decision and political stance, and told them it would be impossible to talk him out of political activism anyhow. Things became more tense when the junta representatives told her they could not guarantee what might happen to her son and the home improvement and scholarship offers were off the table after she started writing on Facebook to criticize the perceived threats.” (December 13, 2015, Kashod English)

In that same article, she was reported as saying, “I have no concern for politics. Whoever becomes prime minister, I’m still going to be poor.”

So, as much of the world celebrates Mother’s Day, Thailand’s junta tosses a Mother of three in jail for respecting the choices of her oldest son. And her other two children are young and need her at home.

A year ago, here in the US, we were discussing the increasingly absurd lese majesty witch hunt in Thailand, and my friend repeated a joke about the old Soviet Union:

A man sees prisoners chained together digging ditches along the side of the road. Someone asks the guard, “What did these prisoners do?”

“Oh their offense was very serious. They told a joke about Stalin.”

“And how about those prisoners over there on the other side of the road?”

“They heard it.”

We laughed, noting that Thailand was almost at that point. Well, it is time to stop laughing because, unbelievably, we are now there: It is illegal to hear a joke. Don’t run from this invasion of your privacy. Get on Facebook and scream and shout and demand an end to the insanity!

Press Statement by 6 Thai Lawyer and Human Rights Organizations: Arbitrary Arrest and Detention Must End!

Since this morning (27 April 2016), military authorities have carried out the arrests of at least ten individuals in Bangkok and KhonKaen provinces. The raids have been conducted with the seizure of property without informing the arrestees of their charges and the reasons for the deprivation of their liberty. They were also not told where they would be taken to. Continue reading

WHO is behind the anti-government propaganda??? Something for the Crime Suppression Committee to consider . . .

Something to consider

Abuses in Thai jail against a “political prisoner”

สัมภาษณ์น้องปั๊ป “กรกนก คำตา” จำเลยคดีนั่งรถไฟจะไปตรวจสอบอุทยานราชภักดิ์

All pretense that PM Prayut Chan-ocha ever cared about democracy is now gone—Time to stand up!

All pretense that Thailand’s self-appointed PM Prayut Chan-ocha ever cared about democracy is now gone. Cries of “What the f*ck!???” were heard round the world as former Pheua Thai MP Watana Muangsook was taken into custody Monday, April 18th for recommending a no vote on the junta’s draft constitution that will be decided in a public referendum in August.

But . . . it’s a public referendum; so public opinions are welcome, right?

No, apparently not. Prayut has decreed that no one should recommend to others how to vote. Yes, that’s right! The Thai citizens should listen to the government’s propaganda without critical comments, and once they have drawn a conclusion, they must keep that opinion to themselves until voting day.  (See The Nation April 19, 2016) And if that citizen is a  farmer, Prayut would prefer that citizen not get involved in politics at all. Prayut was heard asking how many rice farmers even have time to understand this constitution or democracy when they are so busy with farm work? The Daily News, April 14, 2016, p. 8

So Prayut would like the farmers and all other Thai citizens to just trust him on this. The dictator has their best interests at heart in recommending a constitution with an appointed Senate of which six seats are surely reserved for the military.

Or in his own ranting words: “They have no rights to say that they disagree [with the draft constitution]. … I don’t allow anyone to debate or hold a press conference about the draft constitution. Yet they still disobey my orders. They will be arrested and jailed for 10 years. No one will be exempted when the Referendum Act becomes effective [after announcement in the Royal Gazette]. Not even the media. Why don’t people respect the law instead of asking for democracy and human rights all the time?” (quoted from the Human Rights Watch report).

And what will happen if the draft constitutions is voted down? Both Democrat and Peua Thai political parties want to know what the default will be. If not this constitution, which constitution used for the next election? Quoting from the Bangkok Post, April 12, 2016, Gen Prayut answered: “In that case, it is I who will have the power to decide what to do. Do you understand the word ‘power’? It is I who will decide what to do.”

It is hard to even know where to start in criticizing him. Prayut is just SO wrong. He is clueless about democracy. He lacks empathy and is unable to put himself in other’s shoes. Because of his ignorance and self-absorption, he can’t guess that his statements and actions will cause outrage. Or maybe he is unconcerned about people’s outrage because he is too drunk with power.

Prayuth loudly threatens to send his political opponents to “re-education camps.” Look up “re-education camps” on Wikipedia and you get entries for Vietnam, North Korea and China. I guess soon we will have to update it to include Thailand alongside VIETNAM, NORTH KOREA, and CHINA—you should be ashamed, Prayut. He throws journalists in jail for posts on social media—just like they do in SAUDI ARABIA.

We can only hope Prayut’s increasingly good Kim Jun Un–impersonation will backfire—as seems to have happened this week when Watana Muangsook was released early from reeducation after his detention had sparked national and international protest.

Actually, we must do more than hope that Prayut will self-destruct. We must keep up the pressure. It’s now or never for free speech and human rights, and democracy in Thailand. If no one challenges the junta propaganda RIGHT HERE and RIGHT NOW and the draft constitutions passes, Thais could be living with this dictatorship for decades!

AN OPEN LETTER TO WORLD LEADERS & RIGHTS DEFENDERS Thailand: Release Mr. Wattana Muangsuk immediately and unconditionally

Screen Shot 2016-04-18 at 12.31.52 PM

AN OPEN LETTER TO WORLD LEADERS & RIGHTS DEFENDERS
Thailand: Release Mr. Watana Muangsook immediately and unconditionally

THAI ALLIANCE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
1268 Grant Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94133
Website: http://tahr-global.org

April 18, 2016

Dear World Leaders and Human Rights Defenders:

I am writing to beg you to urgently pressure the Thai junta to release Mr. Watana Muangsook, a brave and most vocal politician in Thailand who exercises his freedoms, immediately and unconditionally.

Mr. Watana Muangsook has been harassed, threatened, and twice detained by the junta led by Thai generals in the Royal Thai Army who seized power from an elected government in May 2014 and have used all measures to suppress any dissident. Mr. Muangsook has committed no crimes in voicing his opinions against the draft constitutional charter and on political issues in Thailand. Yet, he has been treated in many ways that utterly violate his freedom of speech, political rights, and rights to liberty and life, just to mention a few.

The Thai Alliance for Human Rights (TAHR) was busily sending statements and letters to protest against the abusive acts by the Thai junta during the first year after the 2014 coup, but we subsequently learned that the junta would not care and would not stop what it intends to do–to make sure that Thais remain silent and submissive. And since TAHR is not affiliated with any political party, we felt that cases against politicians, given the circumstances, should be acted upon by concerned political parties. However, in the case of Mr. Muangsook, the junta shows its determination to target him to send a strong message to other politicians and citizens. The measures used have been increasingly abusive, and we fear they may become fatal if the case is ignored or treated lightly and slowly by the international governments and agencies.

Your offices in Bangkok are surely well informed about this case and about how oppressive and rights abusive the Thai junta has been since the day it successfully seized power from the elected Yingluck Shinnawatra government in mid 2014. We can no longer let the gross violations of human rights continue without doing anything to stop them. Please do whatever you can to let the junta know that the world is monitoring its actions closely and that that Mr. Muangsook must be released immediately and unconditionally.

Thank you for helping.
Snea Thinsan, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Thai Alliance for Human Rights
Email: president@tahr-global.org
Phone: (510) 566-2922