Human Rights Watch today called for charges to be dropped against critics who were charged yesterday for violating the ban on criminal activity after being arrested on February for holding a mock election at the Bangkok Art and Cultural Centre on February 14th.
The four will face the Bangkok Military Court in what HRW described as a ‘rolling crack down on civil and political rights in Thailand’.
The military government’s action appears to fly in the face of pledge by PM Prayuth Chan-Ocha to return Thailand to democracy as ‘soon as possible’. 
And indeed the government’s high profile crackdown on corruption appears to have been more cosmetic than real. It is now cracking down on internet websites and has announced it will close down or rather block 500 more.
However government censorship of the internet is more cosmetic than real and subscribers in Thailand are becoming more and more aware of easy ways around government blocks.
Here follows the HRW statement: 

Thailand: Drop Charges Against Peaceful Critics
End Trials of Civilians in Military Courts

(New York, March 17, 2015) – Thai authorities should immediately drop charges against four activists who peacefully expressed opposition to military rule, Human Rights Watch said today.

On March 16, 2015, Bangkok police charged four activists for violating the ban on political activity and holding a public gathering of more than five people. Those charged were: Sirawit Serithiwat, a student activist from Thammasat University; Pansak Srithep, a pro-democracy activist and the father of a boy killed by the military during the 2010 political violence; Anon Numpa, a human rights lawyer; and Wannakiet Chusuwan, a pro-democracy activist and taxi driver. After being charged, the four activists were immediately sent to the Bangkok Military Court, where they face trial with no right to appeal.

“The Thai military junta should immediately stop arresting and prosecuting peaceful critics and end the trial of civilians in military courts,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Every arbitrary arrest shows Thailand descending deeper into dictatorial rule.”

Thai authorities arrested the four activists on February 14 at the Bangkok Art and Cultural Center while they were holding a mock election and calling for martial law to be revoked. If found guilty they could be jailed for one year and fined up to 20,000 baht (US$625). Anon also faces an additional charge under the Computer Crime Act for criticizing the military authorities on his Facebook page, which could result in up to 25 years in prison and a fine of up to 500,000 baht ($15,625).

The four activists were arrested less than a week after Prime Minister Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, leader of the ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) junta, publicly pledged to return Thailand to democratic civilian rule through free and fair elections as soon as possible.

The NCPO continues to rule Thailand under the Martial Law Act of 1914 and has severely repressed fundamental rights and freedoms that are essential for the restoration of democracy, Human Rights Watch said.

Three days after seizing power on May 22, 2014, the NCPO issued its 37th order, which replaced civilian courts with military tribunals for some offenses—including articles 107 to 112, which concern lese majeste crimes, and crimes regarding national security and sedition as stipulated in articles 113 to 118. Individuals who violate the NCPO’s orders are also subject to trial by military court. At least 700 people, most of them political dissidents, have been sent to trials in military courts since the coup.

As a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Thailand is obligated to uphold and take measures to ensure basic fair trial rights. Governments are prohibited from using military courts to try civilians when civilian courts can still function. 

The Human Rights Committee, the international expert body that monitors state compliance with the ICCPR, has stated in its General Comment on the right to a fair trial that “the trial of civilians in military or special courts may raise serious problems as far as the equitable, impartial and independent administration of justice is concerned.

” This is particularly problematic in Thailand where every element of military courts functions within the Defense Ministry’s chain of command, which has been controlled by the NCPO since the coup.

“The rolling crackdown on civil and political rights in Thailand continues without letup,” Adams said. “Promises to respect human rights and restore democracy are constantly contradicted by the junta’s actions.”


  1. Some of the arrest and detention cases where the government don't admit to detaining someone, nurse in the news today, are downright sinister…. I think it's very plausible the new constitution won't pass a referendum or get widespread approval so another reason the army will use to hold onto power to preserve order For the foreseeable future.

    1. I'm afraid my under-boob pics might warrant a jail term. But if you insist, please send $ 20 USD to P.O. Box 14, 162 Moo 1 Cherng-Telay Thalang Phuket 83110

    2. Thank you RM. I am afraid I missed that story. But I did a little picture research. Quite frankly if I had put out the story I would be able to retire for a month or two. It made everywhere – even the Guardian! Cheque is in the post Christy. I'll risk the jail term.

    1. 80% of the Thai population supports the situation as is. Are they all elite crooks and fascists. I speak rather fluent Thai and communicate with many local people where I reside in the middle of Isarn, very few are unhappy with the situation safe some ever winching foreigners and some Bankokians who do not travel upcountry. This is my personal experience. Repeating the elite mantra, that was invented by the master elite billionaire to muster votes AS WE ALL KNOW BY NOW…. why repeating this rubbish, for what agenda?

    2. You're absolutely right, Andre. I write on Thai topics. I know some generals and judges. I know some poor rice farmers and building site workers. I know people who earn less than the minimum wage. These are the very people, the majority of Thais, who are supporting the present government. I don 't agree with all they are doing, but this is a feudal society and westerners can advise but cannot dictate. (We aren't doing too well ourselves in the UK with corruption in politics and social services for example). Thais actually like this pee-nawng and strict hierarchy of betters and subordinates. But few westerrnerrs understand their culture (they could of course try to communicate) The media would do well to present ALL the facts and give a BALANCED comment. But that don't sell newsprint.

  2. Andre. Thailand is better for who? The Burmese lads falsely imprisoned for murder, The BRB, The Outlaws, The visa people, The Army vultures filling their pockets with money for foreign water projects or the Arabs now flocking Bangkok on medical tourist visas? Saudi Arabia's problems are created by Western greed with people like Tony Blair and Jack Straw making arms deals knowing their record in Hum rights records.Guantanamo Bay is holding terrorists regardless what the political brigade think. They are not there for nothing. Leave them to rot and they wont be able to commit further bombing campaigns against the Western world. These are the hard core terrorists who cannot be reformed. That is why they are there. Take your head out of the sand and stay out of the sun or look across the border to the murdering Burmese Junta, its nearer you rather than ranting on about something you nothing about.

    1. And what of those that were found guilty by the Military courts related to Gitmo that have had their convictions over turned. Primarily due to a whole mountain load of systemic abuses and invention of crimes under which they were held. While I may understand how you feel, I cannot support your acceptance at face value of the accusations you are levelling.

    2. And what of the multitude of prisoners who have never been indicted least sentenced? Why is this so called democratic country having prisons and tortured prisoners outside their own borders as to no fall foul of their own justice system? Please all of you get real, forgot the torture reports already they are not even 6 months old. Selective memory and selective judgement. You only fool yourselves, anybody with half a brain figured it out already.

  3. As for the nurse who was not a nurse…. The "volunteer nurse" who "witnessed" the temple shooting in 2010, is actually a diehard red shirt. She wasn't even really a "nurse," just a fanatical Thaksinite who volunteered to do the job because all the real doctors and nurses in Bangkok were too busy picking up broken bodies of Thaksin Shinawatra's victims or trying to keep mobs of red shirts from storming their hospitals…
    And please pay special attention to this "witness'" photo attached below… doing the 3 finger Thaksin salute. This is a credible witness? Someone so brazenly biased and fanatical? Not a word she said has any credibility, it would be like asking the army to give their side of the story.
    Sorry, and to boot, she is implicated in a recent terrorist attack.
    Again, the army should have told people where she went, that they weren't more clear is their own fault. But this woman is obviously hell-bent on creating as much trouble as possible, including violating the freedom and rights of others she insists are being denied to her.
    If your "heroes" are violent liars, your movement is not worth fighting for,
    PS she has confessed yesterday during the interrogation that the victims killed in Wat Pattaum were actually killed by redshirts themselves not by the soldiers.
    As for "leave Thailand to the Thais" After living and working here for 40 years I reflect on the general Thai situation. Putting irrelevant tidbits to cloud the real situation is not changing anything. Your could adhere to your chosen name, stop blabbing.

    1. But how can they "see", Andrew. When the foreign media is selectively reporting, and forums such as Thaivisa and New Mandala are so anti-Thai that their followers are merely regurgitating "the party line." and spreading bar-room gossip. In the main they do not speak Thai and don't have a broad range of Thai associates. Most of us have personal reasons to be frustrated and angry at the Thai ( but many of our problems also emanate from the foreign fraudsters that you expose) but that is part of their feudal culture however much we dislike it. It's human nature I'm afraid to keep dwelling on the bad side and making assumptions about the Thais based only on limited personal experiences. I disagree with some of what Prayuth says in his weekly broadcasts but I'm more worried about the reasons the foreign media never even report what he says. I don't believe everything he says but there is more truth in some of the facts he reports than those presented by expats here that have no genuine source for their comments.

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