Human Rights Watch urges military to restore basic civil rights

BANGKOK (Agence FrancePresse, The Nation): Human Rights Watch has urged Thailand’s military to restore basic civil liberties. “Thailand needs to solve its problems through the rule of law and the people exercising their right to choose their own leaders,” said Brad Adams, Asia director for the New York-based group.

He urged the military to restore basic human rights guaranteed by the constitution and to protect freedoms of speech, association and assembly. “The return of tanks to the streets of Bangkok is clear evidence that the rights of all Thais are in jeopardy,” Adams said.

“So, too, is Thailand’s position in the region as a leading democracy with a strong civil society.”

Thailand had a history of military coups before a period of economic growth and political stability.

The military claims it is taking power to reform the government and combat corruption, but the move quickly has drawn international concern.

In his five years as Prime Minister, Thaksin has been accused of grave human rights abuses, as well as conflicts of interest between his political office and his telecom empire.

Human Rights Watch condemned Thaksin’s “war on drugs”, which the group said led to hundreds of extrajudicial killings, as well as his heavy-handed tactics in combating separatist unrest in mainly Muslim Deep South.

“Thaksin’s rule had seriously eroded respect for human rights in Thailand, but suspending basic rights under the constitution is not the answer,” Adams said.

Meanwhile Somchai Homlaor, one of the region’s leading human rights defenders, called for the Administrative Reform Council to hold an election as soon as possible.

“The most important thing to do right now is to return the rights, which were taken away from the people once the council revoked the Constitution, back to the people.

“Political reform should be done by civilians, not the military,” he said.

Phuket News
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