Amnesty says Thailand’s attempts to expel it should serve as a warning to other NGOs

PHOTO: Amnesty International Thailand

The human rights organisation Amnesty International says the government’s attempts to kick it out of the country should serve as a warning to other non-governmental organisations operating in Thailand. Kyle Ward, Amnesty’s deputy secretary general, says the calls for expulsion can be linked to a new draft law that seeks to intensify scrutiny of NGOs operating in Thailand. He says Amnesty International and several other local and international NGOs oppose the measure.

“The targeting of Amnesty is taking place against a backdrop of a growing intolerance for human rights discourse among Thai authorities.”

Ward’s statement comes after the government approved the draft law last month. It is now gathering feedback from the public before going to Cabinet for final approval. Seksakol Atthawong, a former member of the Red Shirts, now an aide in the Prime Minister’s Office, has been campaigning for the expulsion of Amnesty International from Thailand, claiming the organisation’s work is a threat to national security.

The Bangkok Post reports that Seksakol plans to submit a petition to the National Security Council and the Interior Ministry this week. It’s understood the petition is calling for the human rights organisation to be expelled from Thailand. The petition has garnered 1.2 million signatures, primarily from royalists and others opposed to Amnesty’s support of pro-democracy activists who are calling for reform of Thailand’s monarchy.

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The calls for Amnesty to be expelled are believed to have arisen in part due to comments made by the organisation after a Constitutional Court finding in November that ruled that 3 pro-democracy protest leaders had attempted to overthrow the monarchy.

In related news, foreign NGOs operating in Thailand are required to renew their operating licences every 2 years. Amnesty International’s licence expired on January 20 and its application to renew is currently sitting with the Labour Ministry while officials decide whether or not to renew.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Maya Taylor

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