Thai military government seeks to restrict dissent, limit protests News
Thai military government seeks to restrict dissent, limit protests

[JURIST] Thailand’s military released several statements on Sunday in an effort to smother dissent following the military overthrow of the government last Thursday. Deputy army spokesman Winthai Suvaree said in a televised statement [press release, in Thai]:

We would like to ask all people to avoid gathering to stage protests because it’s not a usual situation for the democratic process. For those who use social media to provoke, please stop because it’s not good for anyone. For media, they should be careful about speaking, criticizing or doing anything that causes damage to any party, especially civilian, police and military officials.

The military has also banned meetings of more than five people [Bangor Daily News report], and imposed a nightly curfew. In the midst of intense political instability and violence in Thailand, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] urged [news release] the government to “ensure respect for human rights and a prompt restoration of the rule of law in the country.” Pillay expressed particular concern with the restrictions on freedom of expression and freedom of assembly in the numerous orders [UN News Centre report] issued by the newly-formed National Peace and Order Maintaining Council. She concluded by reminding Thailand that even temporary emergency measures must comply with international law.

Political instability in Thailand has increased over the past month after a number of key political officials were removed. Thailand’s new military junta leader, General Prayuth Chan-ocha [BBC profile], announced on Thursday the military has seized control of the country [JURIST report] and suspended its constitution, after having declared martial law [JURIST report] on Tuesday. Chan-ocha stated [BBC report] that the army’s declaration of martial law was not a coup but will remain in place until “peace and order” has been restored. The declaration of martial law was announced on a military run television station, citing Thailand’s martial law act of 1914 as the basis for the military’s action. On May 7 the Thai Constitutional Court [official website] ordered [JURIST report] caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra [BBC profile] to step down for an alleged abuse of power relating to the transfer of a senior civil servant to another position in the government that occurred shortly after she took office in 2011. The decision also removed [WSJ report] several other cabinet members from their positions.