Dear President Trump,
My name is Ann Norman, an American, and I am Executive Director of the Thai Alliance for Human Rights, a US-based Thai human rights organization, consisting of Thais, and Thai Americans, and some non-Thai allies such as myself. Just last Wednesday, I was on Capitol Hill, at the Rayburn Building talking about human rights abuses in Thailand. I wish you could have heard the tragic stories of the conference attendees, many of whom were driven from Thailand because of the harsh laws there against free speech. No criticism of the monarchy is allowed, even to point out matters of fact. Right now a 25 year-old young man (I want to call him a boy because he is younger than any of my own children) is in jail for sharing a mainstream BBC news article about King Vajiralongkorn on Facebook. That is all he did. He pushed share. Now he faces 3 to 15 years in jail. Many of my friends and people in my organization have had to flee Thailand after committing similar “crimes”. In fact Thailand is no longer a free country according to Freedom House index.
We are very disappointed that you invited Dictator Prayuth Chan-o-cha to the White House, as this sends a signal to Thailand that we don’t care about human rights or the fact that Dictator Prayuth led the coup that overthrew Thailand’s elected government three years ago (the anniversary will be in May 2014) and the promised return to democracy has not occurred. Here are my remarks at the conference in Washington DC this week: http://tahr-global.org/?p=32351 The last part is about Pai Daodin (pronounced “Pie Dow Din”). We would rather you didn’t meet with Dictator Prayuth Chan-o-cha, but if you do, please ask for the release of the young man Pai Daodin, who faces 3 to 15 years for sharing a BBC news article on Facebook. There are hundreds of other prisoners, but if we focus on the clear injustice in this case, we may be also able to free the others. And make it known that the United States would like to see the promised elections in Thailand.
Even better, would be to rescind the invitation to meet with the Thai Dictator. You could tell him you will wait to meet with the leader of Thailand’s civilian government after elections are held.
Thank you, Mr. President,
Ann Norman, Executive Director
Thai Alliance for Human Rights