The Coalition for Clean and Fair Election (Bersih 2.0) views with great concern the erosion of democratic space and violation of the rights of the Thai people with a brutal police crackdown on peaceful demonstrations and the declaration of a state of emergency in the wee hours of 15 October 2020.
The decree gives the Thai military government excessive powers to ban gatherings of five people or more and to carry out arbitrary arrests without charges. Due process is violated.
The decree also imposes broad censorship and prohibits any publication that “could create fear and intentionally distort information”, which can be vaguely interpreted to curb freedom of expression and media freedom.
This comes after months of peaceful protests, predominantly led by the youth and student activists, calling for political reform and, more specifically, three demands, namely:
- the resignation of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha – a former army chief who seized power in 2014 through a military coup and was appointed after an election in 2019, which was neither free nor fair
- the drafting of a new constitution and
- an end to the harassment and arrests of people exercising their freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.
This is symbolised by the protesters holding up three fingers into the air.
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Bersih 2.0 stands in solidarity with the pro-democracy movement in Thailand.
Since the 2014 military coup, the Thai government has prosecuted hundreds of activists and dissidents who are critical of the government and have peacefully expressed their views.
Discussions on human rights, political reform and the role of the monarchy in society have been routinely and forcefully censored, with activists being threatened with arrest and charges that may carry long prison terms.
What is of more concern is its system of military rule and the concentration of power, which severely undermines democracy in Thailand.
Bersih 2.0 reiterates our stands that freedom of expression and peaceful assembly is a fundamental right of the people, especially in expressing dissent. These rights are protected under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Thailand ratified in 1996.
Bersih 2.0 also holds a firm view that the free and fair elections and democracy are a basic human right that must be respected and upheld.
The Bersih 2.0 international bureau has considered the situation and developments in Thailand and viewed that it is time for us to extend our solidarity and support to the individuals and the movement in Thailand that advance democracy and protect human rights.
We call on the international community to take the necessary action to support the Thai people in protecting their basic rights and democracy.
To understand the criteria for the Bersih 2.0 international bureau to extend solidarity, see here.
Bersih 2.0 international bureau