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Police violence against democracy demonstrators – letter from Human Rights Watch

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In response to Tuesday’s protests outside the Thai Parliament, and the police response, Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch, responds. Published in full…

Unnecessary Use of Water Cannons, Teargas; 55 Reported Injured

Thai police unnecessarily used water cannons and teargas against peaceful democracy demonstrators outside the parliament in Bangkok on November 17, 2020, in violation of international human rights standards, Human Rights Watch said today.

At about 2.25pm, police attempted to prevent a demonstration organised by the People’s Movement from reaching the parliament, where a debate on constitutional amendments, including possible reforms to the monarchy, was underway. Human Rights Watch observed crowd control units using water cannon laced with purple dye and an apparent teargas chemical, as well as teargas grenades and pepper spray grenades to disperse thousands of demonstrators, including many students. The dispersal operation continued until the demonstration ended at about 9pm Protests on November 18 proceeded without violence.

On November 18, the spokesperson for United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres “expressed concern about the [human rights] situation in Thailand … it’s disturbing to see the repeated use of less lethal weapons against peaceful protesters, including water cannons … it’s very important that the government of Thailand refrain from the use of force and ensures the full protection of all people in Thailand who are exercising a fundamental peaceful right to protest.”

“The Thai authorities should heed the advice of the UN Secretary-General and stop using excessive or unnecessary force against demonstrators, while preventing violence by any group so the situation doesn’t escalate out of control,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

“The Thai authorities should promptly and impartially investigate the violence, including the alleged use of firearms by pro-government demonstrators, and prosecute all those responsible for abuses regardless of their political affiliation or rank.”

At least 55 people were injured, most from inhaling teargas, according to the Bangkok Emergency Medical Service. The injured included six democracy demonstrators who suffered gunshot wounds during a clash with pro-government ultra-royalist groups near the protests.

The Thai government should transparently and impartially investigate all aspects of the November 17 violence, Human Rights Watch said. This should include an inquiry into the circumstances and decision-making process for the extensive use of water cannons and teargas by the police against peaceful demonstrators. The Thai government should be clear that its rules on the use of force by law enforcement comply with international human rights standards and are strictly followed at all times.

Under the United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials and other international human rights standards, law enforcement may only use force when strictly necessary and to the extent required to achieve a legitimate policing objective.

The 2020 United Nations guidance on less-lethal weapons in law enforcement states that “Water cannon should only be used in situations of serious public disorder where there is a significant likelihood of loss of life, serious injury, or the widespread destruction of property.”

In addition, water cannon should “not target a jet of water at an individual or group of persons at short-range owing to the risk of causing permanent blindness or secondary injuries if persons are propelled energetically by the water jet.” In line with international standards, teargas should only be employed when necessary to prevent further physical harm and should not be used to disperse nonviolent demonstrations.

The Thai government has shown increased hostility toward democracy demonstrations, which started on July 18 and later spread across the country. Demonstrators have called for the resignation of the government, the drafting of a new constitution, and an end to harassment for exercising freedom of expression. Some of the protests included demands to curb the king’s powers.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights reported that at least 90 protesters currently face illegal assembly charges for holding peaceful protests in Bangkok and other provinces since July. Some protest leaders have also been charged with sedition, which carries a maximum seven-year prison term, for making demands regarding reforms of the monarchy.

International human rights law, as expressed in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Thailand ratified in 1996, protects the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. But Thai authorities have routinely enforced censorship and stifled public discussions about human rights, political reforms, and the monarchy’s role in society.

Over the past decade, authorities have prosecuted hundreds of activists and dissidents on serious criminal charges such as sedition, computer-related crimes, and lese majeste (insulting the monarchy) for the peaceful expression of their views. In addition, over the past six months, the authorities have used emergency measures to help control the Covid-19 pandemic as a pretext to ban anti-government rallies and harass pro-democracy activists.

“The Thai government should end the police crackdown on peaceful demonstrations or risk further unnecessary violence,” Adams said.

“Concerned governments and the United Nations should publicly urge the Thai government to end its political repression and instead engage in dialogue on democratic reforms.”

You can read more from Human Rights Watch HERE.

 

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8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Ynwaps

    Friday, November 20, 2020 at 8:34 am

    “The United States, other concerned governments” are one of Adams favourite phrases it seems.

  2. Avatar

    Math

    Friday, November 20, 2020 at 9:16 am

    Human right watch it’s an organization financed by George Soros, the man behind the color revolutions…

    And Soros is a good friend of Thaksin Shinawatra, both are in the Carlyle Group.

    If these young people had some knowledge of international politics, they would not put themselves in danger for foreign interests.

    The only people responsible for this violence are not the government that protects itself, but the globalists who manipulate these children to take control of the country.

    • Avatar

      Manu

      Friday, November 20, 2020 at 11:00 am

      I partially agree with you however i do not think there is a global elite working together all over the world but rather globalists protecting their own interest, the interest of their own elites in competition with others, hence this letter of HRW does not mean what you suggest…and therefore a “proof” that “others” (and indeed Soros) are involved in what is happening in Thailand.

      The country of “human rights” (yes France) is the perfect example. The president is a former banker of the Rotshild bank, a globalist, a hard capitalist. A few years ago, noone had heard of him anf now he is doing the job he was put there for, selling out the last public bastions of France to the private sector and everything that goes with these kind of actions (national and international levels). In nov. 2018, the yellow vests (gilets jaunes) movement and protests started and comparing to what is happening in Thailand, the repression was of a complete different scale (so far of course): tier gas grenades by the thousands, rubber bullets (25 lost an eye, 5 an hand, 2 died) and wild beating up and more..(search gilets jaunes on yiutube, hundreds of videos showing this – one would not believe it is France!!). The Human Right Watch (yes which biggest donnor is G Soros) wrote countless of letters like the one in this article – but the people responsible of this repression are playing on the same playground than Soros. But organisations like HRW, or WHO, etc… although they are obviously influenced by this elite financing them (“there is no such thing than a free meal”), it is not that simple and it all depends on the people that work for them at perticular times, the involvement of different countries and their elites, which are most of the time quite different than other countries and their elites. Geopolitic is a little more complexed than just one man (or a few men) rulling the world.

      In other words, you might be right but also very wrong. At that stage, neither you or I can know that.

  3. Avatar

    gosport

    Friday, November 20, 2020 at 9:51 am

    Human rights watch, animal rights watch, Rolex watch. incredible, why don’t watch in the mirror!

  4. Avatar

    Denis

    Friday, November 20, 2020 at 10:27 am

    Brad Adams, another representative of US economic imperialism.
    Finally, day after day, those behind this great manipulation end up pointing their noses.

  5. Avatar

    Fabian

    Friday, November 20, 2020 at 10:47 am

    ooooh, so many anti-democracy and anti-HRW messages now… are the autocrats and China lap dogs starting to pee in their pants?

    • Avatar

      Math

      Friday, November 20, 2020 at 2:51 pm

      I’m for democracy, but unfortunately it doesn’t exist anywhere.

      And all these pseudo democratic revolutions on the same model that have taken place in other countries have only brought more inequality, misfortune and poverty.

      So being against this operation does not mean that we are working for the Chinese or the Russians.

      I just wish that Thailand manages to keep its independence, and keeps a balance in its relations with the 2 great powers.

      China is as dangerous as the US, but she is not trying to take political control of the country.

  6. Avatar

    Issan John

    Friday, November 20, 2020 at 10:23 pm

    I’m not “anti-democracy and anti-HRW”, but this sort of rubbish may soon make me change my mind.

    We are all entitled to our own opinions, but just to correct a few FACTUAL ERRORS:

    The RTP action on 17 Nov was NOT “in violation of international human rights standards”. What country has reacted with less force under similsr circumstances?

    Adams’ own country’s own police forces have reacted with far more force recently under far more peaceful circumstances, and I don’t recall him complaining then.

    The UN Secretary -Geenral (or more accurately Stéphane Dujarric) did NOT “advise the Thai authorities to stop using excessive or unnecessary force against demonstrators”, but to “refrain from the use of force, etc”. NOT the same thing, and as a lawyer and a member of the State bar of California, Adams should be aware of the difference.
    .

    The Thai authorities ARE ALREADY promptly and impartially investigating the violence, and they have identified the alleged use of firearms so far by both anti and pro-government demonstrators.

    They certainly don’t need him to tell them to do something they’re already doing.

    Like it or not, and regardless of whether you support the protesters or not, the RTP’s actions WERE in line with the UN principles, which is NOT that “law enforcement may only use force when strictly necessary” but that it must be proportionate and that ” deployment of non-lethal incapacitating weapons should be carefully evaluated ….. and the use of such weapons should be carefully controlled.” Again, as a lawyer, Adams should be aware of the difference.

    etc, etc, etc

    Thailand and the Thais are going to work out their future, one way or the other, for themselves and the last thing that’s needed is advice from an American whose country’s own police forces leave so much to be desired when it comes to policing “peaceful protests” recently that they make the RTP look like a bunch of Hare Krishnas.

    As for an American urging “democratic reforms” on another country …..

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