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HAILAND: Army issues summons to activists and academics

HAILAND: Army issues summons to activists, academics, writers, and others

At approximately 10 am on May 24, 2014, the National Peace and Order Maintenance Council (NPOMC, formerly NOMC) issued Order No. 5/2014 broadcast on the radio and television demanding that 35 persons report themselves to the Army auditorium at Thewet Road by 4 pm on May 24, 2014. At 9 pm on May, the NPOMC issued Order No. 6/2014 demanding than an additional person report himself to the Army auditorium by 10 am on May 25, 2014. The penalty for not obeying the summons carries a maximum prison term and a 40,000 baht fine.

Worachet Pakeerut -- photo by Prachatai

The list includes Worachet Pakeerut and Sawatree Suksri, academics from the Khana Nitirat, a group of progressive legal academics at Thammasat University, as well as political scientist Pavin Chachavalpongpun, philosopher Surapot Thaweesak, historian Somsak Jeamteerasakul, and communications scholar Suda Rangkupan. The list includes three former political prisoners who were accused of violating Article 112 and were then pardoned and exonerated, who are Suraphak Phuchaisaeng, Surachai Danwattananusorn, and Thantawut Taweewarodomkul. Thanapol Eawsakul, writer and editor of Same Sky magazine, who had been arrested the prior day during a peaceful protest is also on the list (AHRC-STM-099-2014). Two writers, Nithiwat Wannasiri and Wat Wanlayankul, are also included on the list. Outspoken journalist for the Nation newspaper, Pravit Rojanaphruk, was the person to receive the additional summons.

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 two 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. [Thantawut Taweewarodomkul -- photo by Prachatai ]

The Asian Human Rights Commission unequivocally condemns the coup and wishes to express grave concern about the rapid decline of human rights protections it has engendered. The AHRC calls on the National 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.


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