Amnesty International Thailand urges Thai authorities on Thursday to dismiss the allegations against the two young protesters in Rayong after reports surfaced that the police are filing four charges against the activists.
On Wednesday, Rayong police officers arrested Mike and Nont, two youth leaders from the Eastern Youths for Democracy (เยาวชนตะวันออกเพื่อประชาธิปไตย), as they were protesting outside of a hotel in Rayong shortly before the arrival of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-Ocha.
The police officers did not present any arrest warrants nor did they report on any charges against the two young activists during the arrest.
Upon the activists’ release, however, the police responded with the four following allegations against the protesters:
- Violation of Emergency Decree
- Violation of the Communicable Disease Act
- Defying official orders
- Escaping detention/arrest
Piyanut Kotesan, director of Amnesty International Thailand, said that the state officials have a duty to protect citizens’ rights and not silence and punish them merely on the grounds of exercising their freedom of speech and peaceful assembly.
“We understand that the government has measures to ensure the safety of the people but citizens also have the right to express their freedom and call on their health and safety,” Piyanut told Thai Enquirer on Friday. “And when citizens do so peacefully, the government should not be exercising their power on them in such disproportionate ways.”
The government’s exercise of power, Piyanut explains, should be based on two crucial grounds: proportionality and appropriateness.
“What occurred this week was too much, too disproportionate,” she said. “The government is also creating and raising more fear for its citizens who already fear for their health and safety.”
“Citizens have the right to question the governments’ safety measures, and therefore, the government should not be doing this.”
This is not the first time the Thai government has forcefully abducted political activists.
Recently, activists have blamed the government for the disappearance of Wanchalearm Satsakit who was taken from his apartment in Cambodia in June, in which Amnesty has also called for his release.
Wanchalearm was an outspoken critic of the Prayut coup government.
“If we look at the events that have happened in the past, you’ll see that the citizens cannot take it anymore,” said Piyanut. “If the government keeps trying to silence its citizens, they are going to fear them but also come out even more.”
“The government should exercise their powers according to international standards and measures and do so arbitrarily. This will not end. They want people to be scared but people cannot take it anymore,” she added.
Amnesty International urges Thai officials to review their use of the Emergency Decree and power to cope with the current COVID-19 outbreak.
They demand that the government to exercise their power proportionately as necessary and without discrimination, including not using them to restrict arbitrary rights.