For Immediate Release: 10th October 2008
Open Letter: Call for All Parties to Take Responsibility for the 7th October 2008 Tragedy in Bangkok
Thailand’s Government has an obligation to respect and protect the rights and freedom of all persons. All the Government’s acts must be lawful based on rule of law and human rights principles. Restriction of people’s freedoms is prohibited except by virtue of law. Such restrictions must be proportionate and action must be taken only when necessary, whilst not materially affecting the important substance of such rights and freedoms.
In exercising freedom of assembly, the People Alliance for Democracy (PAD) must strictly comply with constitutional principles for peaceful and unarmed assembly.
The police force’s dispersal of PAD demonstrators on 7th October 2008 in Bangkok, under the instructions of Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat’s Government, led to violence and resulted in 2 deaths and many injuries. Following the crackdown on PAD protesters, Thai society has become tense and strained. Some groups of people have reacted to the violent acts of the Thai Government and police force, such as a Thai Airways captain refusing to let members of Parliament from the ruling party (People Power Party) on board a plane, and doctors and nurses groups from the medical profession refusing to give medical treatment to police officers injured in the violence.
Although the violence claimed deaths and injuries among both the protestors and police officers, Thai society is also badly injured. Both PAD and Thailand’s Government deny responsibility for any losses although both took part as perpetrators of this incident.
The Human Rights Lawyers Group’s requests of Thailand’s Government as follows:
1. To strictly comply with Administrative Court orders to avoid further violence;
2. To resign to take political responsibility for such violence;
3. To be responsible for any loss caused by the violence, investigate the incident to find the real facts and provide remedies for the victims;
4. To ensure all information provided to the press is honest and leads to a reduction of stress and conflict in society. The Government must stop providing information to the press in a way which denies all its responsibility and shifts responsibility to others because the Government has an obligation to protect people’s rights and freedoms from being violated. As for the dispersal of demonstrators, the Government could have been prepared to take measures to prevent violence from a third party perpetrator. This undeniable responsibility lies with the government and cannot be shifted to others parties;
5. To respect people’s freedom of peaceful and unarmed assembly guaranteed by Thailand’s Constitution; and
6. To ensure the military are not involved in dispersal of demonstrators.
The Human Rights Lawyers Group’s requests of PAD leaders as follows:
1. To stop using PAD supporters to seek political interest for some groups or some people by taking advantage of people’s loyalty to the country and the royal family;
2. To stop emphasizing that a tragedy occurred on 7th October 2008 as this increases hate amongst society and will lead to more violence;
3. To strictly comply with the principle of unarmed and peaceful assembly as enshrined in Thailand’s Constitution;
4. To not involve the royal family and military in this political conflict.
The Human Rights Lawyers Group’s requests from both Thailand’s Government and PAD leaders as follows:
The Government and PAD must work towards peaceful political solutions to this conflict in order to prevent Thai society from more suffering in the future. The courts have given a chance for finding a political solution. The Administrative Court has issued an injunction to prohibit violent measures and the Appeal’s Court has revoked the insurrection charges against the PAD leaders.
The Human Rights Lawyers Group’s requests from the Thai People as follows:
People together must reject all violence perpetrated by both Thailand’s Government, the PAD and third parties, and closely monitor the Governments’ measures for remedying all these problems.
Human Rights Lawyers Association, Thailand
Thai Volunteer Foundation
Muslim Attorney Center, Thailand