Dear friends,

URGENT support needed to DROP CHARGES against EIGHT HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS in Thailand

Protection International in Thailand is appealing for our immediate action to support eight human rights defenders (HRD), two women and six men, who are being charged with breaching Article 12 which forbids “political gatherings of five or more persons”.

The eight HRDs are involved in We Walk…Solidarity – a walk for human rights, justice and democracy along the Friendship Road from Bangkok to Khon Khean, a journey of some 450 kilometres that will take about 28 days (20/1/2018– 17/2/2018). Three teams of four people, mostly women, began separately walking from Bangkok on 20 January. The eight HRDs members are there to protect the safety and rights of the participants. Their names are below.

We Walk…Solidarity is an initiative of an informal collaboration of a wide range of groups, including the Health Security Watch group and People Movement For Social Welfare, Alternative Agriculture Network – Food Security, National Recourse Network – Community Rights and the Academic and Lawyer Network Who Observe On Constitution, Election and Right and Freedom Violation.

The objective of the Walk is to make visible the current situation in Thailand, in particular the insecurity and frustration with the increasing suppression of the right to freedom of expression, the on-going and growing dominance of the military government over all aspects of Thai society, the worsening standard of living, and the situation of human rights and justice.

Please contact the Thai authorities, calling on them to:

Immediately drop charges against the eight HRDs.
The Prime Minister and the Royal Thai Government must respect human rights, justice and democratic principles, and not hinder or suppress the legitimate actions of the participants of ‘We Walk…Solidarity’. The Government must instead fully protect the participants in the exercise of their rights, until the end of this action, and guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Thailand are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions, including judicial harassment.

The names of the eight HRDs charged are:

1.  Mr. Lertsak Kumkongsak
2.  Mr. Nimit Tieudom
3.  Mrs. Nutchanart Thanthong
4.  Mr. Jumnong Nupian
5.  Mr. Somchai Grajanseang
6.  Ms. Sangsiri Teemanka
7.  Assist. professor Dr. Anusorn Aunno
8.  Mr. Ubon Yuwa

Express support for the National Human Rights Commissioner, Mrs Angkhana Neelapaijit, UNOHCHR and their team who are monitoring the situation on the ground.

Email or call:

·      Minister of Tourism and Sports – H.E KobkarnWattanavrangkul
prdiv3@tat.or.th Tel : +66 2283-1555 Fax : +66 -2356-0746

·      Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand –Mr Don Pramudwinai minister@mfa.go.th

·      Minister of Foreign Affairs Chief of Staff –MrsUrasaMongkolnavin permsec@mfa.go.th  Fax : +66 -2643-5272

And/or your local Thai embassy or consulate.

On Sunday 28th January, observe what is happening on line, showing solidarity to the eight HRDs when they turn themselves in at Klong Luang police station on. (We will let you know asap if the date is postponed.)

FACTS

On January 23, 2018 the media reported that Lieutenant Colonel (Lt.Col) Prusit Khalyhiran issued warrants against eight of the We Walk members under NCPO Order Number 3/2558 – the Order decreed in 2015 on Maintaining Public Order and National Security. They are accused with breaching Article 12: “Political gatherings of five or more persons shall be punished with imprisonment not exceeding six months or a fine not exceeding ten thousand Baht, or both, unless permission has been granted by the Head of the NCPO or an authorized representative.” The military has issued a warrant for their arrest. The eight members will have to appear in front of the officer on Sunday 28 January 2018. If they fail to meet the officials they will be issue with a second warrant, and if they still fail to appear they will be arrested.

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