ASEAN parliamentarian group calls for end to judicial harassment of Thai politicians
The Jakarta-based ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) released a statement yesterday (May 27) calling on the Thai authorities to end their harassment of Future Forward party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit and to stop their efforts to undermine anti-military parties in the National Assembly.
“The Thai authorities’ pursuit of trumped-up criminal cases against Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit and other anti-military actors is a clear attempt to undermine critics of the junta. All charges against lawmakers, journalists, activists and others, who have done nothing but express peaceful opinions, must be dropped immediately,” Charles Santiago, Chair of APHR and a Member of Parliament in Malaysia was quoted to have said in the statement.
The APHR explained that “Thanathorn has faced at least two apparently politically motivated criminal cases over the past year. Last week, the Constitutional Court also suspended him from his duties as a Member of Parliament (MP), pending an investigation into an alleged violation of election rules.”
The APHR went on to say that regional lawmakers are concerned that the military junta has used a range of repressive laws, including sedition charges and the Computer Crimes Act, to target and silence critics after seizing power in a 2014 coup d’état. Worryingly, sedition cases in Thailand are tried in military courts that do not meet international standards of fairness and where cases often face severe delays.
The statement ended with a call for the protection of PMs, with Eva Sundari, APHR Board Member and MP in Indonesia saying “Parliamentarians can play a crucial role in upholding and defending human rights, but only if they are allowed to act without restrictions and fear of reprisals. It is disturbing that governments across Southeast Asia seek to undermine opposition figures through threats, harassment and criminal charges.”
The APHR was founded in June 2013 with the objective of promoting democracy and human rights in all ASEAN states.