Attacks on bystanders, abusive detention laws, and the crackdown on information have all heightened tensions in Bangkok, says Human Rights Watch.
Human Rights Watch is gravely concerned about serious abuses by both Thai government security forces and the Union for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), known as the Red Shirts, in Bangkok.
Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, made the following statements about the general situation, the use of detention, the Emergency Decree, and the crackdown on communication:
“The situation in Bangkok has spun out of control because of wrongful actions on both sides. The Thai government and the UDD should take immediate steps to ensure the safety and protection of the people caught amid the violence. We urge both sides to respect and provide access for emergency medical personnel and fire fighters, cease the unlawful use of lethal force, and ensure safe passage for people trying to flee the violence. Anti-government militants should immediately stop targeting journalists.”
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“We’re seeing a lot of arrests by the government, but where are these people being taken? The government should provide information on those detained, where they are detained, and under what conditions they are being held. We’re not just talking about the leaders of the Red Shirts, but everyone who is being held. The authorities should promptly give family members and legal counsel access to the detainees.”
“Human Rights Watch is very concerned that the government has invoked the Emergency Decree, which provides blanket legal immunity to officials, and allows the government to hold persons outside of regular places of detention. The Emergency Decree is contrary to Thailand’s international obligations and could open the door to serious abuses.”
“Once again, the government and the army are clamping down on websites and other media. While the government should take action against those inciting violence, in this chaotic situation, it is essential for civilians to be well-informed so they can stay out of harm’s way. The government’s broad-brush restrictions prevent that.”
Bede Sheppard, Asia Children’s Rights researcher at Human Rights Watch, made the following statements:
“UDD supporters who used children as shields acted in a reprehensible manner. Both sides need to take greater action to protect the safety of those caught up in the violence in Bangkok. All those seeking to go to safer ground need to be allowed to do so, such as those trapped by the shooting outside Wat Pathum. Responsible organisations that work and care for children have all offered their assistance and protection in escorting children out of these areas.”