Government defends moves in light of Amnesty's campaign

Government defends moves in light of Amnesty's campaign

Anti-government protesters scuffle with police as they try to break barriers and storm inside Samran Rat police station in Bangkok where 15 political activists arrived on Aug 28 to acknowledge charges against them in connection with a rally on July 18. Blue paint in bags and a bucket was thrown at the officers during the ruckus. (Photo by Apichart Jinakul)
Anti-government protesters scuffle with police as they try to break barriers and storm inside Samran Rat police station in Bangkok where 15 political activists arrived on Aug 28 to acknowledge charges against them in connection with a rally on July 18. Blue paint in bags and a bucket was thrown at the officers during the ruckus. (Photo by Apichart Jinakul)

The government has issued two statements through the Foreign Ministry and Royal Thai Police Office in response to a campaign launched by Amnesty International.

In its campaign, the London-based rights organisation urges more than 8 million people who are its members, supporters and democracy activists around the world to write to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, asking him to drop charges against the 31 protest leaders of the July 18 demonstration at the Democracy Monument in Bangkok and to stop obstructing people from taking part in public gatherings to criticise the government.

The organisation also asks the government to repeal laws it deems suppressing people's freedom of expression and right to peaceful gatherings.

The campaign will continue until Oct 21.

The Prime Minister's Office on Monday published two statements issued by the Foreign Ministry and Royal Thai Police Office (RTPO).

The Foreign Ministry's statement says the government has not blocked critics. During the past two months, students and people were allowed to hold several demonstrations in keeping with their freedom of expression and right to peaceful gatherings.

"However, in exercising such rights and liberties, demonstrators are required to comply with the laws and respect the rights and freedom of others for the sake of law and order, as well as national security, in line with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) of which Thailand had signed.

The government is open to constructive criticisms which are not aggressive or insulting to other people.

The RTPO says in its statement that in monitoring the gatherings, police have been careful to avoid any form of violence to ensure safety of the demonstrators and passers-by. Some of the demonstrators have been charged, without discrimination, for violating the laws. However, they have the right to fight the charges in the justice process. Their fundamental human rights are respected in line with international standards.

The RTPO adheres to the human rights principle regarding peaceful gatherings and expression.

As for the protest leaders who broke the law, the RTPO has set up a committee to look into the violations to make sure that legal action taken against them are lawful, transparent and accountable.

With solid evidence, the police investigators sought court approvals for their arrests. Most of those arrested were temporarily freed on bail. Only those who broke the bail conditions saw their temporary releases revoked.

"The RTPO assures that the legal action taken against the protest leaders is in line with the Criminal Procedures Code and other related laws," says the statement.


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