Amnesty International links expulsion move to broader crackdown on NGOs

Amnesty International links expulsion move to broader crackdown on NGOs

A group of activists parade through Silom Road on Nov 21, 2021 seeking people’s support to ban Amnesty International in Thailand. (Photo: Chanat Katanyu)
A group of activists parade through Silom Road on Nov 21, 2021 seeking people’s support to ban Amnesty International in Thailand. (Photo: Chanat Katanyu)

The campaign to expel Amnesty International should be seen as a warning to other non-governmental organisations as the government pushes for a law to "regulate" them, the human rights group said on Wednesday.

Kyle Ward, the Amnesty International deputy secretary general, said the call to expel the organisation in Thailand could be linked to the draft law on the operations of not-for-profit organisations.

Amnesty International was one of several local and international organisations opposing the move.

"The targeting of Amnesty is taking place against a backdrop of a growing intolerance for human rights discourse among Thai authorities," he said in a statement.

The draft was approved by the government last month and is awaiting feedback from public opinion before being returned to the cabinet for the final decision.

Seksakol Atthawong, a vice-minister of the Prime Minister's Office, has engineered a campaign against Amnesty International alleging that its work was threatening national security.

He said last week that he would submit a petition with 1.2 million signatures to the National Security Council and Interior Ministry this week.

The anti-Amnesty sentiment is believed to be partly due to its comments after the Constitutional Court ruled in November that the actions of three young protest leaders in August constituted an attempt to overthrow the monarchy.

Amnesty International's operations in Thailand are threatened on another front as the Labour Ministry prepares to decide whether a new operating licence would be granted after its old licence expired on Jan 20.

International NGOs are required to renew their licences every two years.

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