UDD petitions UN over closure of its centres

UDD petitions UN over closure of its centres

The United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) has petitioned the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) in Bangkok, complaining it was prevented from opening provincial centres to monitor for fraud in the Aug 7 charter referendum.

The petition was submitted on Monday by UDD chairman Jatuporn Prompan, who was accompanied by Nattawut Saikuar, the secretary-general, Thida Tawornseth, Weng Tojirakarn and other UDD core members.

Mr Jatuporn said the UDD decided to submit the petition because on Sunday it was able to open its centres in only 47 provinces. In the 29 other provinces its members were prevented from opening planned referendum monitoring centres by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).

He claimed that some people wearing black shirts similar to those worn by UDD members had been intimidated by military and police officers, and others charged in the military court. He revealed no details.

Mr Jatuporn said he hoped Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, who is NCPO chairman, would bear in mind that he had contradicted his words about the UDD's fraud-monitoring centres.

He said Gen Prayut had earlier said the centres could be opened as they were not against the law, even though he did not like the idea, but later contradicted himself and ordered them closed.

Mr Nattawut said the UDD wanted the UNHCHR to understand that the atmosphere during the lead up to the referendum in Thailand was different from other parts of the world, because the people here were without rights and freedoms and their attempt to participate was deemed illegal.

Asked about Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan's suggestion that the UDD, instead of setting up fraud-monitoring centres, should work together with the Election Commission to monitor for fraud, Mr Nattawut said that was not possible because the EC had never shown any intention of wanting it to join in.

Gen Prayut said in a separate interview that he had talked to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for about 30 minutes on Monday morning, and explained to him what was going on in Thailand.

He told Mr Ban about the charter referendum and preparations for a general election.  "I told him everything is proceeding according to the roadmap," he added.

Gen Prayut said he also told the UN secretary-general about the movements of those who did not wish the country well, including the UDD's intention of submitting a petition to the UN office in Bangkok.

Asked whether Mr Ban had expressed concern over any matter in particular, Gen Prayut said the UN chief was concerned about the issue of freedom of expression.

"I explained to him that we have such freedom.  As for the draft charter, people throughout the country have been given a chance to voice their opinions," he said.

Gen Prayut said he told Mr Ban that some political parties were not cooperative, and the UN secretary-general had replied that was understandable.

Asked whether some UDD core members who had broken promises made to the NCPO would now face legal action and suspension of all financial transactions, the prime minister said he was pondering this move.

 He declined to comment any further.

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