THAILAND: Junta summons additional human rights defenders, activists, academics, and journalists

At approximately 9 pm on 1 June 2014, the National Council on Peace and Order Maintenance Council (NPCO) issued Orders No. 42-44/2014 broadcast on the radio and television demanding that 38 persons report themselves to the Jamjuree Room at the Army Club on Thewet Road between 10 am and noon on 1 June 2014. Similar to earlier orders, the penalty for not obeying the summons carries a maximum prison term and a 40,000 baht fine.

The list includes a number of human rights defenders, activists, academics, and journalists. Jittra Kotchadet is a long-time labour rights activist and human rights defender. Tewarit Maneechay is a human rights defender and journalist for the independent media site Prachatai. Suthachai Yimprasert, a historian at Chulalongkorn University, and Kengkij Kitirianglarp, a political scientist at Chiang Mai University, are two academics who have consistently acted in support of human rights. Pranee Danwattananusorn is the wife of Surachai Danwattananusorn, a former political prisoner, and she has worked to support and defend the rights of political prisoners and human rights defenders. Karom Phonpornklang is a lawyer who has defended numerous political prisoners. The full lists are as follows:

Order No. 42/2557:
1.Mr. Karom Phonpornklang
2. Mr. Ruangkrai Likhitwattana

Order No. 43/2557
1. Police Colonel Narit Sawaengjit
2. Mrs. Noi Daengpao
3. Miss Karin Prachan
4. Mr. Sittichai Kittinaesaworn
5. Mr. Praphat Chongsongwon
6. Mr. Chakraphan Yomchinda
7. Mr. Banyat Yenjaichuay
8. Mr. Narongsak Plai-aram

Order No, 44/2557
1. Mr. Suthachai Yimprasert
2. Mr. Kengkij Kitirianglarp
3. Mr. Ratchaphong Ochaphong
4. Mr. Tewarit Maneechay
5. Ms. Ulairat Chuduang
6. Mr. Amarin Sairam
7. Mr. Niphon Phadungsilpphairot
8. Mrs. Pranee Danwattananusorn
9. Mr. Kittisak Sujittharom
10. Ms. Jittra Cotchadet
11. Mrs. Salilthip Na Phattalung
12. Mr. Suwat Lambutr
13. Mr. Seriphap Sunthornchaiphak
14. Mr. Pritnarinthorn Thonburiboonsuk
15. Mr. Sarawut Phuthornyothin
16. Mr. Wanchai Chongcharoonhiran
17. Mr. Thanaporn Sriyakul
18. Mr. Pruek Prueksunan
19. Mr. Phiphat Phansuwan
20. Mrs. Yuphin Kongchandee
21. Mr. Chalieo Chankied 
22. Mr. Sriphop Kornarut
23. Mr. Ekaraj Netradee
24. Mr. Panya Surakhamchornroj
25. Mr. Wanchaloem Satsaksit
26. Mr. Thanat Srinithikosit
27. No. Oo. Surapol Nawamawat
28. Mr. Kothawut Buraphitak

The Asian Human Rights Commission would like to reiterate that the use of public broadcast media to issue wide-ranging summons to citizens functions as a form of terror. Human rights defenders, activists, academics, writers, and other citizens do not know when they will hear their name announced and when they will have to turn themselves over to the authorities.

The order for citizens to report themselves represents a violation of the Government of Thailand’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Thailand is a State Party, notably article 9, and specifically that, “1. Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedure as are established by law. 2. Anyone who is arrested shall be informed, at the time of arrest, of the reasons for his arrest and shall be promptly informed of any charges against him. 3. Anyone arrested or detained on a criminal charge shall be brought promptly before a judge or other officer authorized by law to exercise judicial power and shall be entitled to trial within a reasonable time or to release…”

Detention of those ordered to report under these three orders of the junta is a clear case of arbitrary detention. Those on the lists have not been formally charged with any alleged crimes. If the junta has evidence that those in detention have committed wrongdoing, then they should be formally charged through the judicial system and using the Criminal Code.

While the junta has made reassurances that those who report themselves will not be mistreated, within the context of martial law and rule by the junta, this reassurance carries no weight. Citizens are subject to up to seven days of detention without the authorities having to provide evidence of wrongdoing or bring formal charges. Detainees can be held at irregular places of detention, including permanent or temporary military bases or other sites designated as places of detention. Detention in irregular places means that the possibility for rights violations, including torture, forced disappearance and extrajudicial execution is greatly increased. Those who have been released from detention have been forced to sign a statement asserting that they were not coerced, beaten, tortured, or otherwise harmed during the detention. They may not attend political meetings, participate in political movements, or leave the country without permission of the junta chief, General Prayuth Chan-ocha. The penalty for violating these conditions is the same as the penalty for not responding to a summons: up to two years in prison and/or a 40,000 baht fine.

The Asian Human Rights Commission unequivocally condemns the coup in the harshest terms and wishes to express grave concern about the rapid decline of human rights protections it has engendered. The AHRC calls on the National Council for Peace and Order Maintenance Council to immediately release all citizens being arbitrarily detained without charge and to cease creating public terror by issuing blanket summons to report to the military.

Pranee Danwattananusorn; Photo credit is VoiceTV

Jittra Kotchadet; Photo cretid Bangkok Post

Tewarit Maneechai ;Photo credit is his Twitter feed

Kengkij Kitirianglarp: Photo source is Matichon TV

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About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

Document Type : Statement
Document ID : AHRC-STM-109-2014
Countries : Thailand,
Issues : Impunity, Military, Right to life,