THAILAND: The Council must declare the coup illegal

Document id: ALRC-COS-26-21-2014
HRC section: Item 4, General Debate
Speaker: Mr. Budi Tjahjono

A Joint 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 and Franciscan International, NGOs with special consultative status

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 orraids, the NCPO has arbitrarily detained over 500 peopleincluding 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 majestélaws. 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, LRWC and FI therefore urge that Council members declare that the coup is illegal and insistthat Thailandrespect itshuman rights obligations.

Thank you.

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About the ALRC: 
The Asian Legal Resource Centre is an independent regional non-governmental organisation holding general consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. It is the sister organisation of the Asian Human Rights Commission. The Hong Kong-based group seeks to strengthen and encourage positive action on legal and human rights issues at the local and national levels throughout Asia.