Released on 22 May 2018
Four years of the military coup, an absence of the rule of law,
and election is the solution
The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) led by Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha, then the Commander on Chief, has unconstitutionally and undemocratically seized ruling powers and established itself as the sovereign power through a military coup in 2014. In the wake of the coup, a new government was installed and new Constitution promulgated under very tight grip and draconian rule of the NCPO. Four years past, the NCPO and the military junta have yet to restore democracy and Thai people’s right to vote. A litany of promises has been made by Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha to the Thai public and international community to promptly organize elections including the one supposedly to take place within 2018. Yet, the election has been postponed because of different excuses. This has eroded public confidence in the possibility to have elections held as promised.
Demonstrations by the “Pro-Election Activists” are thus a justified political expression to remind the NCPO the importance of keeping their word once given to the public. Furthermore, the demonstrations have been proceeded in accordance to the Public Assembly Act, as it equals to the exercise of the right to freedom of expression, freedom of opinion and freedom of peaceful assembly of which are protected under the Constitution and international laws that Thailand has obligations to abide by. Therefore, the junta’s effort to scuttle the demonstrations of the Pro-Election Activists using different tactics and invoking different reasons, instead of delivering as the word that has been given to the public for free and fair elections to be held, simply reinforces a lack of sincerity of NCPO to restore democracy and people’s right to vote. Such gesture by the NCPO to impede public assemblies may simply exacerbate political situations in Thailand.
The Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF) urges security agencies to respect fundamental right to public assembly, association and freedom of opinion of the Pro-Election Activists and other civic groups which want to express their political opinion on the fourth anniversary of the military coup. By deploying too many police personnel, it may unnecessarily tarnish the country’s image. The government and certain NCPO leaders are urged to stop intimidating or invoking NCPO’s Announcements and Orders to stifle the exercise of the legitimate right to freedom of expression of the people.
As to Thammasat University where the demonstrations of the Pro-Election Activists are taking place, CrCF urges the university and its personnel to facilitate the peaceful exercise of the rights of the demonstrators and to refrain from preventing or expressing prejudice against such political participation by the people in accordance to the tradition that the university has been abiding by.
In addition, until now, apart from seizing democratic rights and the right to vote of the people, the NCPO has completely ravaged legal principles and the rule of law by arbitrarily exercising its unaccountable power to impose restrictions on people’s fundamental rights and freedoms. None of the existing measures are effective enough to ensure peaceful harmony of the people in the nation, the mission of which has been invoked by the NCPO as a compelling reason to stage the military coup. CrCF strongly urges the government and the NCPO to restore democracy and hold the elections as pledged in order to install democratically elected government, so that the elected government can then reestablish democracy and rejuvenate the rule of law.