International NGOs react to Thai pro-democracy protests

THAILAND: We, the undersigned organizations, condemn the Thai police’s pointless and extreme use of pressure towards peaceable protesters marching to the nationwide parliament in Bangkok on Nov 17.

Police stand guard as a tear fuel canister is thrown throughout a pro-democracy rally close to the Thai Parliament as lawmakers debate a constitution modification in Bangkok on Nov 17. Photograph: AFP.

On Nov 17, police set out boundaries and barbed wire to forestall a peaceable march organized by pro-democracy actions from reaching the parliament. Protesters deliberate to protest exterior the parliament as members of parliament and senators debated seven completely different proposals for constitutional amendments, together with an modification proposed by the attorneys’ non-governmental group iLAW (Web Legislation Reform Dialogue), which was supported by the Folks’s Motion and its allies.

Police refused to let protesters by way of the boundaries, and when the demonstrators acted to breach these boundaries, police crowd management models used water cannons laced with purple dye and an obvious teargas chemical, in addition to teargas grenades and pepper spray grenades, to forcibly disperse hundreds of demonstrators, together with college students, a few of whom are kids.

Water cannons have been first used at roughly 2:25pm and police continued their efforts to disperse protesters, with fixed use of water cannons, teargas and pepper spray into the night.

Police additionally failed to forestall violence between pro-democracy protesters and royalist “yellow shirts” close to the Kiak Kai intersection, close to the parliament.

Initially, riot police separated the 2 teams. Nonetheless, video posted on social media later confirmed law enforcement officials informing the royalist protesters that they’d withdraw and seconds later they vacated their place between the 2 teams.

Through the ensuing skirmishes, either side have been filmed throwing rocks and wielding golf equipment. Dwell broadcasts included sounds that gave the impression to be gunfire.

The Erawan Medical Centre reported that there have been a minimum of 55 protesters injured, principally from inhaling teargas. It additionally reported that there have been six protesters who suffered gunshot wounds. The injured included kids: a kindergartener and elementary faculty college students.

Though some pro-democracy protesters engaged in violent conduct in responding to royalist protesters, we emphasize that the overwhelming variety of protesters have been completely peaceable.

Moreover, we want to emphasize that whereas particular members of an meeting who interact in violence are topic to a response that’s lawful, strictly mandatory and proportionate, in addition they retain all different human rights together with the precise to life, to safety of individual and to freedom from torture and different merciless, inhuman or degrading therapy or punishment.

Worldwide human rights legislation, as expressed within the Worldwide Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Thailand acceded to in 1996, protects the rights to freedom of expression (article 19) and peaceable meeting (article 21).

However Thai authorities have routinely enforced censorship and stifled public assemblies, conferences, and discussions about human rights, political reforms, and the monarchy’s function in society.

In Common Remark 37, which units out the content material Thailand’s authorized obligations in guaranteeing the precise of peaceable meeting, the United Nations Human Rights Committee – the physique accountable for deciphering and making use of the ICCPR – made clear that there’s a presumption in favor of contemplating assemblies to be peaceable.

Remoted acts of violence by people shouldn’t be attributed to others, to the organizers, or to the meeting as such. Whereas the precise of peaceable meeting could in sure instances be restricted, the onus is for the State to justify any restrictions, which should move the checks of legality, legitimacy, and necessity and proportionality.

The Committee emphasised that “assemblies with a political message ought to get pleasure from a heightened stage of lodging and safety.” The Committee additional highlighted the accountability of governments to actively facilitate the enjoyment of the precise to peaceable meeting, together with by securing protest places and defending protesters “towards potential abuse by non-State actors, akin to interference or violence by different members of the general public, counter-demonstrators and personal safety suppliers.”

The Committee confused that governments ought to, to the extent potential, enable protests throughout the “sight and sound” of their audience or symbolic websites.

The Committee additionally mentioned that legislation enforcement officers concerned in policing assemblies “should respect and make sure the train of elementary rights of organizers and members.”

Authorities ought to tackle the essential method of searching for to facilitate peaceable assemblies. Pursuant to Thailand’s obligations below articles 6, as interpreted by the Committee in Common Remark 36 and Beneath the United Nations Primary Ideas on the Use of Power and Firearms by Legislation Enforcement Officers and different worldwide human rights requirements, legislation enforcement could solely use pressure when strictly mandatory and to the extent required to attain a reputable policing goal.

In Common Remark 37, the Committee additional famous the indiscriminate results of less-lethal weapons with wide-area results, akin to teargas and water cannons. Therefore, the Committee mentioned that “when such weapons are used, all affordable efforts must be made to restrict dangers, akin to inflicting a stampede or harming bystanders.”

The 2020 United Nations steerage on less-lethal weapons in legislation enforcement additional states that “water cannons ought to solely be utilized in conditions of great public dysfunction the place there’s a vital chance of lack of life, critical harm, or the widespread destruction of property.”

As well as, water cannons ought to solely be used after legislation enforcement personnel have given warning and sought to “determine and isolate any violent people individually from the principle meeting.”

Authorities also needs to “not goal a jet of water at a person or group of individuals at short-range owing to the danger of inflicting everlasting blindness or secondary accidents if individuals are propelled energetically by the water jet.”

On the usage of teargas, worldwide requirements present that it ought to solely be employed when mandatory to forestall additional bodily hurt and shouldn’t be used to disperse nonviolent demonstrations.

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On condition that kids are taking part in these protests, we additionally notice that the Committee on the Rights of the Youngster emphasised in its feedback on draft Common Remark 37 that the State “has a optimistic obligation to guard kids’s rights and should always act with an consciousness that kids could also be current on the meeting, and defend them from any hurt that could be occasioned by legislation enforcement actions in addition to hurt attributable to different members within the meeting.”

On November 18, the spokesperson for United Nations Secretary-Common António Guterres “expressed concern concerning the [human rights] state of affairs in Thailand … it’s disturbing to see the repeated use of much less deadly weapons towards peaceable protesters, together with water cannons … it’s crucial that the federal government of Thailand chorus from the usage of pressure and ensures the complete safety of all individuals in Thailand who’re exercising a elementary peaceable proper to protest.”

We name on the Thai authorities to respect, defend and fulfill the precise of demonstrators to peacefully protest, in step with Thailand’s worldwide obligations below the ICCPR and customary worldwide legislation. Particularly, Thailand ought to:

1. Defend the rights of protesters, together with those that are kids, in accordance with the Human Rights Committee’s Common Remark No. 37 on the Proper of Peaceable Meeting.

2. Facilitate the train of the precise to peacefully assemble and chorus from dispersing assemblies by utilizing weapons, together with less-lethal weapons, towards protesters in step with the United Nations Primary Ideas on the Use of Power and Firearms by Legislation Enforcement Officers and UN and different steerage on less-lethal weapons.

3. Defend protesters, together with those that are kids, from violence and interference by non-State actors, whereas additionally defending the rights of counter-demonstrators.

4. Take steps to make sure accountability for rights violations related to the federal government’s crackdown on the protest motion and to make sure that these whose rights have been violated get pleasure from the precise to an efficient treatment, as assured below ICCPR article 2(3).

Signed by:

Amnesty Worldwide

Article 19

ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights

Asia Democracy Community

Asian Discussion board for Human Rights and Growth (FORUM-ASIA)

Asian Community for Free Elections (ANFREL)

CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation

Civil Rights Defenders

FIDH – Worldwide Federation for Human Rights

Fortify Rights

Human Rights Watch

Worldwide Fee of Jurists

Manushya Basis

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