CrCF Urges for investigation of the use of force to suppress peaceful demonstration on the first anniversary of the coup

Cross Cultural Foundation
For immediate release on 23 May 2015
CrCF Urges for Investigation of the use of force to suppress
peaceful demonstration on the first anniversary of the coup

On 22 May 2015, after the dispersal of demonstration at the Bangkok Art & Culture Centre, 34 students were arrested for staging their peaceful protest. It was reported that the officials in uniform and plainclothes have used force to quell the peaceful gathering causing at least two demonstrators to require treatment in hospital. Images broadcast by domestic and international media portrait the acts of the officers in uniform and plainclothes while they were using force, applying chokehold, pulling the demonstrators by their hair or their heads, and dragging them crudely on the road.

From an interview with one 24 year old male demonstrator who was receiving treatment in hospital, the Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF) has found the person had been subjected to physical assault including being kicked, punched, hit causing numerous wounds on his body. Apart from applying a chokehold, some officer kneed him his chest prior to dragging him from place to place. Verbal abuse was hurled toward him all the time and eventually, other officers helped to kick and beat him up until he passed out. Then, some officer poured water on him to wake him up. During the time, he felt so tense in his chest and could barely breathe. After vomiting, he was brought to receive treatment at a hospital. The injured person sustained wounds on his face, neck, both arms and his right eye was nearly covered with bandage in full. He still feels the pain on his right ribs. At present, he is still put under intensive care of medical doctor.

The Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF) deems that the right to peacefully exercise freedom of expression must be respected. Any act by the officials to stop any gathering or to restrict the right to freedom of assembly has to be conducted proportionately and reasonably. Even though the 34 demonstrators most of whom are students have been released without being pressed with any charge, but prior to their release, the officials asked to photocopy ID cards of all of them and had them write on the paper to pledge to not carry out more activism.

On the same day, another dispersal of anti-coup demonstration was carried out in the province of Khon Kaen where seven students were rounded up and held in custody for one night. They were later pressed with charges concerning the violation of the NCPO Announcement no. 7/2557 and the Order of the Head of NCPO no. 3/2558 issued by virtue of Section 44 of the 2014 Interim Constitution. Lately this morning, the seven students who are members of the Dao Din Group have been bailed out at 7,500 baht per person or altogether 52,500 baht.

The Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF) feel deeply concerned about the use of force to suppress the demonstrations and the arrest and pressing of charges against a symbolic act, which is tantamount to be a breach of the right to freedom of expression by peaceful and decent means. We have the following demands to make;

1. Both incidences must be investigated promptly, independently, and effectively in order to preempt further suppression of public gathering which seems to infringe on human rights.
2. The investigation must help to bring to justice the perpetrators who have to face both criminal and disciplinary action. Also, remedies, compensation, restitution and rehabilitation must be provided adequately and properly to the injured persons. And there shall be no restriction against the right of the injured parties to exercise their right to judicial process to bring to justice the perpetrators.
3. The use of excessive force to suppress and stop any demonstration must be stopped since it purports to restrict the fundamental right and freedom of the people, which should garner respect and protection from the authorities.
4. The inquiry officials are urged to investigate the case fairly. The pressing of charges against Dao Din students in Khon Kaen is an exercise of legal power in breach of human rights principle and it is inclined to unfairly and unjustly restrict freedom of expression of the students.

For more information, please contact Ms. Pornpen Khongkachonkiet, Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF), phone 02-6934939