Thailand’s announcement that it is lifting martial law and replacing it with new measures is little more than a cynical exercise in the preservation of military power, said Amnesty International today.
“The announcement that Thailand’s Prime Minister, General Prayuth Chan-Ocha, was lifting martial law should have been a cause for celebration. However, he has simply granted himself and his military officers’ extensive powers to continue violating the rights to liberty, freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly,” said Richard Bennett, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Director.
“The international community must not be fooled by this cynical exercise in the preservation of military power. Nothing has changed – this is an attempt to cast a veil over its determination to continue using military might to crush dissent.”
Amnesty International is calling for the new Order to be repealed and for the reinstatement of the rule of law and constitutional protections for human rights which the 2014 coup has so badly undermined.
In the new Order, General Prayuth Chan-ocha grants himself the power to appoint army officers as “Peace Keeping Officers” who in turn would wield virtually all of the powers previously granted to the military under martial law. These include amongst others:
- The draconian criminalization of “political gatherings”, however peaceful, of five or more people;
- The power to detain individuals without warrant, charge or trial in unofficial locations for up to seven days, then impose conditions on their release;
- The power to search premises without warrant;
- The power to gag any publication, from tweets to books, which they consider may cause “security alarm” or “public misunderstanding to the detriment of public order”;
- Civilians continue to be tried in military courts for “security offenses”, which the current authorities say include peaceful acts of self-expression.