Thailand: Oral Statement to the 26th Session of the UN Human Rights Council – The Council Must Declare the Coup Illegal

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Mr. Budi Tjahjono’s statement delivered 23 June 2014 begins at 21:01

Date: June 20, 2014
Document id: ALRC-COS-26-21-2014
HRC section: Item 4, General Debate
Speaker: Mr. Budi Tjahjono of Franciscan International

Oral Statement to the 26th Session of the UN Human Rights Council by the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC), NGO with general consultative status and Lawyers Rights Watch Canada, NGO with special consultative status

THAILAND: The Council must declare the coup illegal

Thank you Mr. President,

On 22 May 2014, a military junta, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), usurped power by force and overthrew the democratically elected government of Thailand. The ALRC and LRWC are concerned that since the coup, human rights have suffered a serious setback in Thailand.

First, freedom of expression and political freedom have been severely curtailed. The NCPO has used intimidation, surveillance, and military force to create fear and prohibit peaceful protest. Civilians have been chased and apprehended by soldiers, and then detained, and, in some instances, formally charged for peacefully holding up blank A4 sized paper signs. The junta has banned the holding up of three fingers – a symbol of dissent in the movie The Hunger Games – in public.

Second, using public summons, arrests or raids, the NCPO has arbitrarily detained over 500 people including several human rights defenders. The junta has not released the names or number of detainees or their whereabouts. This lack of transparency creates terror and the likelihood of grave human rights violations such as enforced disappearances. Those released are forced to sign a pledge that they will not engage in politics or leave the country.

Third, military courts have been activated to prosecute civilians for violations of junta orders and crimes against the crown and state, including the draconian lèse majesté laws. These courts allow long pre-charge and pre-trial detention, prohibit appeal, and can be closed to public observation.

Mr President, the sovereignty of a state is expected to be exercised by a legitimately elected government. The ALRC and LRWC therefore urge that Council members declare that the coup is illegal and insist that Thailand respect its human rights obligations.

Thank you.

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