Thailand: All sides in current conflict must exercise utmost restraint
|Publisher||International Federation for Human Rights|
|Publication Date||23 April 2010|
|Cite as||International Federation for Human Rights, Thailand: All sides in current conflict must exercise utmost restraint, 23 April 2010, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4bfd1bd5c.html [accessed 21 September 2014]|
23 April 2010
Paris-Bangkok, 22 April 2010. The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the Union for Civil Liberty (UCL) deeply regret the loss of life and injuries as a result of the violent clashes between state security forces and the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) demonstrators on April 10 in Bangkok. FIDH and UCL call on all sides to renounce violence and engage in a constructive dialogue to find solution to the current political conflict and prevent further escalation.
21 civilians and 4 soldiers are known to have died and at least 800 wounded as a result of the April 10 violence, which occurred following an attempt by state security forces to clear the red-shirted protesters at the Phan Fah bridge and Ratchadamnoen road in Bangkok. The administration of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said that government forces had used tear gas and rubber bullets. It later conceded that live ammunition had been used but only on firing into the air or in cases of self-defence. Some of the antigovernment protesters reportedly used firearms and explosives, as well as make-shift weapons, in the clash. Based on such reports the government has declared that there are 'terrorists' among the protesters, and that 'terrorism' is now part of the protest. Such an identification, based on reports which have not been verified, is arbitrary and widely interpreted to justify further violent suppression.
The uncertainty surrounding the events of April 10 calls for credible investigation by an independent commission. FIDH and UCL urge the Thai authorities to establish such commission and to ensure that the body could exercise its mandate in an independent, impartial and effective manner in order to establish the responsibility for serious human rights abuses, by all sides, in the current political conflict. The authorities must also prosecute those responsible for committing criminal offenses. Unfortunately, there are indications that the events of April 10 are sliding into a process of oblivion and impunity.
FIDH and UCL are also deeply concerned about the announcement on April 19 by the Centre for the Resolution of Emergency Situations (CRES) that soldiers are now allowed to use live ammunition in self-defence as the Thai authorities try to prevent the protesters from taking over the business district of Silom. The use of force, even in a declared state of emergency, needs to be in strict compliance with international human rights law and standards, especially the principles of strict necessity and proportionality, as well as the need for effective remedies for abuses arising from illegitimate use of force.
It is incumbent upon the Thai government to exert the utmost effort in resolving the current confrontation peacefully and establish accountability of grave abuses by state and non-state actors. The protesters should also channel their demands through peaceful and reasonable means and renounce violence or its incitement. The viewpoints of both sides must be allowed expression in the media.
"All sides must exercise the utmost restraint in the current political crisis and resort to peaceful means and dialogue, rather than violence. The escalating tension and potential for further bloodshed threaten to erode the rule of law, the progress Thailand has made as a democratic society, and its credibility as a candidate for the UN Human Right Council," said Souhayr Belhassen, President of FIDH.
The current protest began on March 12 as members of the UDD, who are supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, marched peacefully into the city and occupied major intersections in the capital city, despite the invocation of the Internal Security Act by the government. The UDD movement has been calling for the dissolution of the parliament and new rounds of election be held immediately. A state of emergency was declared on April 7 following a brief intrusion by a small group of the protesters into the Parliament building which forced cabinet members and members of parliament to flee. On April 9, 16 protesters and 5 soldiers were injured in another confrontation between government forces and the UDD protesters when the latter laid siege to the Thaicom satellite station in Pathumthani province to restore the pro-Thaksin People's Channel cable television, which had been blocked by the government after the declaration of a state of emergency. The present crisis goes unreported on government media, other than by repeated showing of news clips supporting government interpretations. Independent media are being censored and suppressed. Two rounds of negotiation between top leaders of the current administration, including the prime minister, and the leaders of the UDD took place but have so far failed to resolve the political impasse.