News / Asia

    Rights Group Slams Thai Military Junta

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

    A leading human rights group says General Prayuth Chan-ocha's appointment as Thailand's prime minister "does not advance human rights or a return to democratic rule," saying widespread repression continues three months after the military seized power.

    Thursday's unanimous election of the 60-year-old army chief was a foregone conclusion, since he was the only candidate for the post. Prayuth has led the junta since forcing Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's government out of power on May 22.

    In a statement Friday, Human Rights Watch said the junta "continues its crackdown on those exercising their fundamental rights and freedoms and has made no genuine progress towards restoring democratic rule." 

    It said the military "has enforced widespread censorship, largely banned public gatherings and other political activity, carried out hundreds of arbitrary arrests and detentions, and disregarded allegations of torture and ill-treatment."

    Prayuth will step down as army chief next month.  He plans to stay in power until new elections are held in late 2015. 

    Thailand has been plagued by political unrest since 2006, when former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Yingluck Shinawatra's older brother, was also ousted in a military coup. Thaksin and his sister were bitterly opposed by Bangkok's traditionalist political elite.

    Thaksin, a telecommunications billionaire, has been living overseas in self-imposed exile to avoid prison on corruption charges.

    The new prime minister says he wants to impose a series of political reforms aimed at restoring order, but critics see the takeover as an attempt to wipe out Thaksin's influence. 

    Prayuth's election must be approved by Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej, a move that is believed to be a mere formality.

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    by: Anonymous
    August 23, 2014 9:15 AM
    It is now much safer in Thailand than it was before the coup. The mafia and thugs that used to prey on tourists in areas like Phuket are now disbanded. Travelling around Bangkok is now much safer. The military coup was necessary to rein in paid armed protesters and thugs who would not think twice about bombing crowded areas.

    by: Anonymous
    August 23, 2014 9:04 AM
    This so called Human Rights Watch in Thailand is NOTHING but a bunch of IGNORANT group if it's not a THAKSIN paid mouthpiece. If only this ignorant group go out and ask what the people really want, I bet they will be surprised to learn that the vast majority were relieved that the military stepped in to restore order and governance.

    by: Doug from: Phuket
    August 23, 2014 7:35 AM
    Just read the comments and was going to add mine, but no need, I agree with all but one of them. And need I say, that one negative comment is from Brian in California, he has probably never traveled outside the US and hasn't got a clue what he is talking about like most Americans. By the way I am an American, but live in Thailand and love it! I have seen no oppression or curtailment of civil rights since the coup, heck I have yet to even see any military personal except in pictures.
    Before the cop, the country was on a very bad downhill slide as the various corrupt political factions struggled for control. Bribery was the only way to get anything done, it was completely out of control, but the current leadership has reversed that trend.

    by: Thomas Ross from: Bangkok Thailand
    August 23, 2014 6:47 AM
    Where was HRW, when thousands were murdered during the time when 4 Prime Minister were from the Shin Dynasty? Woman and children murdered. Billions of Baht stolen from farmers, politicians with millions hidden in bed rooms. To whom do you report, corrupt politicians?

    by: Blueblood from: Bangkok
    August 23, 2014 1:22 AM
    The photo attached article was something happened well before May 22, 2014. No such incident happened after the smooth, polite, bloodless coup on May 22. This is a fabricated article trying to discredit Thailand. The word 'Junta' is inappropriate in Thai situation. We are not one of those banana republics you try to make us look like one. Thailand is far ahead of many countries in terms of human rights, etc. Listen to foreigners who have lived in Thailand for some time and try not to apply your own standard to the situation you know nothing about.

    by: Khnom from: Nakhon Pathom
    August 22, 2014 11:51 PM
    Escaped criminal who stole billions from Thailand, Thaksin, probably had this article written. This article is filled with LIES and half truths and needs a corrective retraction.
    I live in Thailand and know from direct experience, every day, that the General and the Army are SAVING Thailand from a vicious political machine that has tried to own Thailand and has fought with bribes, cronyism, and armed terrorist goons all in service to Thaksin and his political machine.

    This article shames VOA, shames America, shames Human Rights Watch, and simply LIES so deeply about Thailand. As a human being of this world, I DEMAND A RETRACTION AND A CORRECTIVE ARTICLE THAT TELLS THE TRUTH.

    VOA has been hijacked by a billionaire tyrant terrorist. VOA's name is profoundly sullied by this release. VOA now speaks from the bottom of a toilet in shame.


    by: Brian from: Bangkok
    August 22, 2014 11:26 PM
    Human Rights Watch has an agenda that includes tacit support for radicals under the guise of 'human rights'. Where is their criticism of the evil regimes in the Middle East, Saudi, Kuwait, Qatar etc. where women are are only possessions of their men with no rights such as the vote, right to drive. But such criticism by HRW would offend the US government who also support these regimes. HRW, you are a disgrace to your name.
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    August 23, 2014 9:27 AM
    My thoughts exactly.

    by: Brian Sumpter from: California
    August 22, 2014 2:43 PM
    These posters saying how great the coup is are way off base! If it is so popular, why is there no vote? This coup was just the Yellows throwing out the reds, and trying to stack the deck so the reds won't win again. Its obvious; Suthep holds large fundraisers and brags that he told Prayuth how to perform the coup, while just days ago someone protesting energy policy was arrested. Any gathering of three reds shirts is subject to arrest. They have cracked down on organized crime to a degree, so that is a bright spot.
    In Response

    by: Khnom from: Nakhon Pathom
    August 22, 2014 11:58 PM
    Brian, you have been duped by those playing on your normally good knee jerk opinions that supports democracy. What you are not told is that Thaksin and his cronies were/are the greatest threat and enemy to democracy via his strong POLITICAL MACHINE that was very near to taking over Thailand and turning it into another Cambodia, run by Thaksin's buddy, another tyrant.

    You are so badly informed by outlets bought by Thaksin's billions and by the USA government, VOA etc, who want Thaksin back as their puppet ruler like Noriega was.

    Thaksin and his cronies were preparing to launch a civil war with a private army armed with his war weapons. Brian, get really informed about Thailand and skip VOA's lies.

    by: Ted from: Chiang Rai
    August 22, 2014 12:08 PM
    People really need to sit down and do the research. What has happened to Thailand since May 22 is the best thing that could have ever happened. I hope Prayuth keeps the movement steady.

    by: Robert from: Bangkok
    August 22, 2014 12:02 PM
    In the past, the military has always kept its promises to return Thailand to democratic rule. This time will not be any different. Prayuth is taking the post temporarily until general elections.next year. Of course, there are many people, who really have no clue about Thailand, but think they know better. As far as human rights, I thing that the Human Rights Watch has nothing better to do right now. They should focus on countries where human rights are truly in peril. Not here.

    The point is that this coup was necessary. It wasn't just red against yellow. Those were mostly paid protesters. Paid by the politicians (especially the Shinawatra family).In the mean time, the same politicians used cheap handouts to buy votes. They made deals and filled their pockets. Just like in the US. The real issue was that there were too many backroom deals with international conglomerates, selling Thailand piece by piece. It had to stop. The politicians were given plenty of chances to resolve their issues, but they didn't. Actually, they couldn't. Their bosses (the money behind their elections) wouldn't allow it. And it was rapidly getting out of hand.

    The vast majority of the Thais welcomed this coup. Life is back to normal here, there is no military presence on the street and the sensation-seeking press has moved on.This so called 'junta' isn't what the word itself suggest. Time for the know-it-all bloggers to get on a plane and see for themselves, before copying and pasting negatively tinted 'news' about Thailand.
    In Response

    by: hugh from: chiang mai
    August 23, 2014 9:28 AM
    The Thai military will carry out a coup every 4.5 years as there never has been a civilian political solution that pleases the Bangkok Elite. One of the problems in Thailand is that all parties bribe the voters and this is not acceptable to the military. The elections in 2 years time will be held on the Chinese model, only one candidate for each electorate and that candidate will have to be carefully scrutinized and approved by the Bangkok elite. This type of election will avoid the massive voting corruption of the past. As in China, it will not be democracy which the Bangkok Elite say is not suitable for Thailand as the wrong people have usually won the elections. The coup in 1932 was partially to provide for universal suffrage but further constitutions re written soon after 1932 have struck out that provision because the one man one vote principal envisioned by the authors of the first constitution is unacceptable to the aristocracy. In that context Thailand is different to nearby countries such as Indonesia where it is permissible for a person of humble origin to be put forward for leader. Same in Singapore where the Lee family had very humble origins.
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    August 23, 2014 9:26 AM
    Thanks for taking the time to explain the REAL scenario. I agree with you that the Human Rights Watch is now serving as a mouthpiece of the deposed dynasty.
    In Response

    by: David from: US
    August 22, 2014 1:47 PM
    thank you for explaining it much better--these news stories are so one sided..I travel to Thailand and miss it..the word "junta" just throws people off--thanks!!
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