Thailand State of Emergency Must Not Infringe on Human Rights, Says Amnesty International

For Immediate Release

Amnesty International USA
Contact: 

AIUSA media office 202-544-0200 x302

Thailand State of Emergency Must Not Infringe on Human Rights, Says Amnesty International

WASHINGTON - The Thai government should
remove restrictions on free speech contained in today's emergency decree,
Amnesty International said.

"The government is ultimately responsible
for the security of all Thai citizens, regardless of their political views,"
said Benjamin Zawacki, Amnesty International's researcher on Thailand.
 "But the government should not use this state of emergency to silence
free speech or infringe on other human rights."

"International law is clear that even under
a state of emergency people have the right to voice their opinions on all
issues affecting them - including on the emergency decree itself - and
to articulate viewpoints that differ from those of the government or groups
they oppose".

In addition, the government should limit
the decree's current restriction on freedom to assembly to only the areas
in Bangkok most affected by the ongoing protests and stand-off among the
various political groups.

"These demonstrations and counter-demonstrations
show that many Thai people are frustrated with the lack of respect for
the rule of law and the lack of accountability. So what is ultimately needed
is greater accountability, upholding the rule of law, and more respect
for civil and political rights," Zawacki said.

Violent clashes between pro-government demonstrators
and the anti-government People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) outside
Bangkok's Government House left one person dead and more than 40 injured,
triggering the declaration of a state of emergency earlier today.

Amnesty International urges all political
leaders, including those of the PAD, to respect human rights.
   
Background
PAD members occupied the state-run National
Broadcasting Services of Thailand (NBT) television station on August 26,
and thousands continue to occupy Government House, which includes the prime
minister's office, since that day. Incidents of violence occurred on August
29 at both Government House and the Metropolitan Police Headquarters, and
an explosion occurred outside a police guardhouse on September 1.  Dozens
of protesters and police have been injured, and nearly 100 protesters detained.

Section 9(3) of Thailand's Emergency Decree
on Public Administration in Emergency Situation (2005) prohibits press
releases, the distribution or dissemination of letters, publications or
any other means of communication containing texts which may instigate fear
amongst the people, or is intended to distort information or create understandings
of the emergency situation to the extent of affecting the security of state
or public order or good morals of the people of the entire Kingdom.

The Thai government has not invoked all
provisions of the emergency decree refraining from, among other orders,
imposing a curfew on Bangkok.  It has also indicated that it would
remain in force only as long as necessary.

For more information, please contact the
AIUSA media office at 202-544-0200 x302 or visit www.amnestyusa.org.

 

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