News / Asia

Amnesty International, Thai Military Leaders Discuss Rights Concerns

Protesters push Thai soldiers with shields during an anti-coup demonstration in Bangkok, Thailand, May 25, 2014.
Protesters push Thai soldiers with shields during an anti-coup demonstration in Bangkok, Thailand, May 25, 2014.

Amnesty International says a team of four from its headquarters in London traveled to Thailand to research the human rights situation in the kingdom following the May 22 coup.

The non-governmental organization’s investigators, who were in Thailand for nine days this month - from July 9 to 18 - met with a deputy chief of staff of the army, representing the National Council for Peace and Order.  The NCPO is the ruling military entity that seized power from the caretaker civilian government.

Amnesty International spokesman Olof Blomqvist says the human rights organization appreciated the willingness of the junta to engage with
its representatives and answer their questions for an upcoming report.

“We have serious concerns about the human rights situation in Thailand since the military takeover," Blomqvist explained. "And in this report that is coming out over the next few weeks I think we will spell out those concerns more clearly. 

"And we will also have some strong recommendations towards the NCPO that we will hope that they will take on board on how they can better fulfill their international human rights obligations," he added.

Thailand’s state run news agency (NNT) characterizes the meeting as providing Amnesty International with a “better understanding of the situation in Thailand” and said the organization’s representatives “became more positive towards the operation of the NCPO with regard to human rights.”

FILE - Thailand's Army commander Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, left, arrives at the Royal Thai Army Club in Bangkok, Thailand.FILE - Thailand's Army commander Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, left, arrives at the Royal Thai Army Club in Bangkok, Thailand.
x
FILE - Thailand's Army commander Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, left, arrives at the Royal Thai Army Club in Bangkok, Thailand.
FILE - Thailand's Army commander Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, left, arrives at the Royal Thai Army Club in Bangkok, Thailand.

Amnesty and other organizations have expressed concern about the military’s crackdown on migrant workers from neighboring countries: Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam.  Fears among foreign laborers, after the coup, prompted a hurried temporary exodus by more than 100,000 Cambodians.

The junta has also faced international criticism for repression of Thai citizens under a continuing period of martial law.  Military decrees have imposed serious restrictions on rights and as well as freedom of expression by academics, journalists and members of the public.

Hundreds of Thais have been summoned for interrogation and detained. Most have been released after about one week in custody.

May 22 coup

The coup occurred following an extended and sometimes violent period of political instability.

The electorate has been polarized for more than a decade.

Royalists among the Bangkok middle class and elite, including the so-called yellow shirts, have strongly opposed the countryside red shirt majority that in every election this century has propelled into the prime minister’s seat candidates supported by billionaire businessman Thaksin Shinawatra.

FILE - Thailand's ousted Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.FILE - Thailand's ousted Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
x
FILE - Thailand's ousted Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
FILE - Thailand's ousted Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

He was deposed as prime minister in a coup in 2006.  His younger sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, was forced out of the same job this year shortly before the military takeover.

Interim charter

The junta last week unveiled an interim charter after abrogating the country’s constitution.  It says it plans to write a new permanent constitution soon and appoint a legislature, which will include military officers.

Army chief, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, has said he hopes national elections can be held around October next year, after he carries out sweeping political and other reforms.

Coup leaders and its supporters have made no secret of their desire to create a new political system that will permanently eradicate the influence of the Shinawatra clan.


Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

You May Like

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: lone eagle from: Bangkok, Thailand
July 30, 2014 12:33 AM
On October 29, 1996 Thailand formally accepted the UN's International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The only country to date that after having accepted the ICCPR and now wishing to withdraw from the ICCPR is North Korea, which is understandable since they have never implemented it since having acceded to it in September 1981. However there is no withdrawal provision in the ICCPR unless all members of the UN allow North Korea to do so, which is very doubtful. The Thai junta's conundrum is that since Thailand is a party to the ICCPR, how can it draft a constitution that is a violation of the ICCPR, legally they can not. Once Thailand is a party to the ICCPR it can not withdraw without the consent of the other UN members, which is slim to none, and Slim left town. As a result of Thailand in 1996 becoming a party to the ICCPR a 1997 Thai constitution was promulgated, commonly called The People's Constitution in Thailand. Part 1, Article 1 of the ICCPR states "All peoples have the right of self-determinaton. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development." In the 1997 Thai constitution Chapter 1, Section 3 "The sovereign power belongs to the Thai people............." which is a reflection of the ICCPR's Part 1, Article 1. In July 1998 Thaksin's Thai Rak Thai party was established and with over 40% of the votes Thaksin became the PM in 2001 and being reelected in 2005 with over 56% of the vote and again being reelected in 2006 with 61% of the vote. Thaksin's program was populist by appealing to indebted farmers, a 30 baht per day hospital scheme, debt moratorium for farmers, a microcredit development fund, and an OTOP program to support locally made and marketed projects. None of this would have been possible without Thailand accepting the ICCPR in 1996 that allowed for the 1997 Thai constitution to be promulgated. However after the September 2006 coup Thaksin was ousted and the 1997 constitution scrapped. In a August 2007 referendum over 56% of Thai voters approved the 2007 constitutional draft which differed little from my reading of both the 1997 and 2007 Thai constitutions. On May 22nd the junta scrapped the 2007 constitution and on July 22nd replaced the 2007 constitution with an interim constitution which is to last one year. The Junta and their Bangkok elite supporters are in a difficult situation. How to promulgate a constitution that can disenfranchise voters who supported PM Yingluck and her party so that Bangkok’s elite can continue to dominate politically and economically Thailand without fostering the conditions for a civil war or as been already discussed in Thailand secessionist sentiment in Thailand’s Northern region?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

VOA Blogs