Thai army asked: Respect rights
In the light of the declaration of martial law in Thailand, the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (Afad) calls on the Thai army under the command of Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha to uphold human rights and not subject anyone to enforced disappearance.
Article 1.2 of the International Convention for the Protection of All Person from Enforced Disappearance emphasizes that at “no exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification for enforced disappearance.”
The government of Thailand signed the convention on Jan. 9, 2012. It promised to complete its preparations for its ratification by December 2014. It is just unfortunate that the political crisis besetting the country thwarted these efforts.
Afad is concerned about the broad powers vested on the military by a 1914 law: censure news, restrict meetings and gatherings, and even detain people without legal process. These powers, based on the experiences of many countries under martial law, led to gross human rights violations, including enforced disappearance.
According to Human Rights Watch, the Thai army has already clamped down on press freedom and free speech by instructing some academics and others not to speak negatively about martial law. It was also reported to have summoned officials of government, professional associations and civil society organizations to report to the army and not defy martial law regulations.
While it is reported that General Prayuth had told reporters not to worry because they will try not to violate human rights too much (see http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/thailand-s-army-declares-martial-law-denies-coup), Afad asks freedom-loving citizens of Thailand and the international community not to be complacent about the situation but to closely monitor the state of human rights especially the possible commission of the crime of enforced disappearance.
In solidarity with the people of Thailand, we urge our counterparts in other regions of the world to be vigilant of the situation and call on the Army to ensure that its forces adhere to the government’s commitment to human rights. Thailand has to be consistent of its claim as the “land of the free,” by not compromising the fundamental freedoms and rights of its citizens.
—MARY AILEEN D. BACALSO,
secretary general; MUGIYANTO, chair,Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances,
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