Foreign Ministry refutes Amnesty allegation that Thai government is gagging protesters

A student rally in Buriram last month - PHOTO:

Thailand’s Foreign Ministry has hit back at an Amnesty International statement that accuses the Thai government of violating citizens’ rights to free speech and freedom of assembly. The statement, sent to Amnesty’s 8 million members worldwide, calls on followers to petition Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha to drop all charges against 31 leaders of anti-government protests. Amnesty is also calling on the government to stop trying to prevent rallies and shut down government criticism, and to do away with laws that only serve to gag people and violate their right to freedom of expression.

In response, the Thai Foreign Ministry points out that for several weeks, people have been allowed to gather and hold protests “as is their right”. It adds however, that such rallies must take place within the confines of the law and not infringe on the rights of others or pose a security risk, or a threat to law and order. The ministry points out that this is stipulated in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Thailand has signed.

“The Thai government supports free expression which is creative, non-aggressive and which is not contemptuous of the others or which incites hatred.”

The Ministry says that the police must act when protesters break the law and that anyone arrested has the opportunity to defend themselves in court. It has also praised officers for ensuring protests remained peaceful and for avoiding the use of force when policing the rallies.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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