Former human rights commissioner accuses government loyalists of distorting protesters’ demands

PHOTO: Thai PBS World

The former commissioner of the National Human Rights Commission, Angkhana Neelapaijit, has taken to Facebook to defend the rights of student protesters. In her post, she also accuses those loyal to the government of misconstruing the protesters’ demands, saying the activists are being incorrectly accused of wishing to abolish the monarchy.

Angkhana defends the protesters’ rights to freedom of speech and expression, warning that any distortion of their demands will only serve to cause more division and possible violence within society. The protesters have produced a 10-point manifesto, calling for the dissolution of parliament, constitutional reform, and an end to the intimidation of government critics. It also calls on the government to investigate the suspected forced disappearance of several political activists since the 2014 military coup. The fate of Angkhana’s own husband, Somchai Neelapaijit, is still unknown, following his abduction 16 years ago.

In her Facebook post, Angkhana voices concern over the harassment faced by the current protesters, warning that there will not be enough prison space to hold everyone if police continue to arrest protesters and more people continue to speak out. Police have arrested a number of prominent activists, including human rights lawyer, Arnon Nampa, Phanuphong Chatnok, a member of Free Youth, and most recently, Parit Chiwarak, known as “Penguin”, leader of Thammasat University students. All 3 are currently out on bail.

Angkhana says the government has an obligation to ensure everyone is kept safe, warning officials against the use of violence or any other tactics employed to suppress dissent.

“Nobody must be harmed and there must be no enforced disappearance because of difference of opinion with the government.”

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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