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Released on 14 May 2013


Thailand: Issue of human dignity and freedom of assembly in the case of Mr.PlodprasopSurassawdi’s speech to arrest all protesters

This press release is in regards to the media interview given by Deputy Prime Minister Mr.PlodprasopSurasswadi on 12 May 2013, during an inspection of the readiness of the conference on the 2nd Asia-Pacific Water Summit on 14-20 May 2013, which was held at the International Convention and Exhibition Centre Commemorating His Majesty’s 7th CycleBirthday Anniversary in Chiang Mai.

He statedto the environmental activists or groups of people whom were working on water resources issues that intended to protest at the conference,“If you come to protest you will be arrested; do not come to protest. Those who violate this instruction will bearrested; this is not a place for the demonstration. Please be informed that those who come for the conference, they come for the reputationand also to representthepeople. Brunei represent for Bruneian, Iran represent Iranian, Korea represent Korean. I do not understand why you desire to protest and what you intend to achieve from the demonstration.Do not come, it is against the law and I will command that you be arrested. Those people in Chiang Mai should not allow these garbage-like people to clutter up the meeting, follow what I just said.”

Human Rights Lawyer Association (HRLA) states the following opinion: the statement given by the Deputy Prime minister violated the human dignity of many people and potentially resulted in a violation against freedom of peaceful assembly, as for the reasons provided below.

1. Peaceful Assembly is a fundamental right recognized by Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand B.E. 2007 Article 63

The Human Rights Lawyer Association holds the opinion that the statement made by the Deputy Prime Minister violates the human dignity and freedom of peacefully assembly. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 21 states that “the rights of peaceful assembly shall be recognized.” Thailand signed onto this Treaty on 29 October 1996 and was implementedon 29 January 1997.

The accession committed The Kingdom of Thailand, the Government, the Parliament, and the Court procedures to honour and uphold the rights and freedoms written in the constitution. The government has a duty to respect human rights and not violate the rights of the people. This protection entails ensuring that individuals do not violate the rights of others, and also that civil society rights are protected.

The State can restrict the freedom of assembly under circumstances in which there is a legal cause specifically aimed at regulating public assembling and securing public convenience and safety in the use of public places, or for maintaining public order during times of war, or when a state of emergency or martial law3is declared. The state hasa duty to protect the all people of the state of and to allow them to exercise their freedom of peacefulassembly, specifically by not encouraging or promotingthe violation of the rights and freedoms of its own people as Mr. PlodprasopS uraswadi did in speaking to the media.

2. The deputy prime minister stated, “Those who come (gathering) will be arrested;those who break this law will be arrested.”

These words clearly demonstrate an initiative to violate the right to freedom of assembly by a person in a high position of the government. If the statements of the Deputy Prime Minister are acted on, there will be a clear violation of Constitutionally protected rights.

The action, without authorization to enforce, violates constitutional rights.The government’s actions would be wrongfully exercised. Their actions would be extremely harmful to the people which recognize that these actions would be unauthorized and have therefore chosen to peacefully assemble. It would be unlawful to arrest the protestors. Officers can only arrest people under the authority given to them by the criminal procedure code; the code does not give them the authority to arrest peaceful protestors. The group of people concerned here includes, but is not limited to, the water-resources activists.The members of civil society along with the water resources activists and others have an equal rights to freedom of assembly, as long as the assembly is peaceful.

3. The words spoken by duty prime minister : “The people of Chiang Mai should not allow these garbage-like people to clutter up the meeting”

This statement violates human dignity because it decreases the value of human beings to unwanted material.“Dignity” is of great value to every human being. Every individual has the same equalvalue, and they should not be disparaged. Disparage reduces the value of humans. Even though every individual may be the different regarding social aspects, they should be treated withthe same dignity. Everyone have the rights to recognition everywhere as a person before the law. The statements from Deputy Prime Ministernot only violate human dignity, his words should be seen as defamation of the demonstrators, the result of an attitude that lacks an understanding of the right to freedom of assembly which is the fundamental right of democracy.

Based on the reasons above, the Human Rights LawyersAssociation and others partner organizations below have called on Mr. Plodprasop Suraswadi and the GOVERNMENT of Thailand to:

1. Deputy Prime Minister Mr. PlodprasopSuraswadias, a member of an elected democratic government, must issue an apology to the people concerning the statement made to the media.

2. Stop using threatening words which do not foster the rights and the freedoms of the people

3. Stop using the words that reduce the human dignity of the civil society.

4. Stop offering opinions that would encourage or stimulating the authority to violate the rights to freedom of the people

5. Uphold the rights to freedom of the people by accepting the framework of international law , the Constitution and any other laws.

With the Respect of Human Rights and Human Dignity

Human Rights Lawyer Association (HRLA)

Union for Civil Liberty (UCL)

Center of Human rights for Social

Group of the publicize Human right Law for Social (DOWDIN)

Community Resource Centre (CRC)

Southern NGO Coordinating Committee on Development

Association of Observer on Development plan (SatunProvice)

Centre for Protection and Revival of the local Community Rights

Further Information Contact:

Ms.HathaikantRanumas, Director of Human Rights Lawyer Association