11 July 2024

The Thai Foreign Ministry has refuted London-based Amnesty International’s (AI) allegations that the Thai Government has restricted free expression and public assembly and gagged anti-government criticism.

Last week, AI issued a statement, calling on its eight million members and followers to write to Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to urge him to drop all charges against 31 protest leaders, to stop officials from preventing people from protesting or criticizing the Government and to repeal laws which are deemed to violate people’s rights to free expression and public assembly.

The Thai Foreign Ministry responded, saying that, in the past two months, the Government has permitted students, and people in general, to hold several protests, in full recognition of their rights to free expression and peaceful public assembly, which are fundamental in democratic societies.

The Ministry said, however, that such free expression must be exercised within the legal framework and with respect to the rights and liberties of the other people, in a way which will not jeopardize national security or public order, in compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Thailand is a signatory.

“The Thai government supports free expression which is creative, non-aggressive and which is not contemptuous of the others or which incites hatred,” said the Ministry, adding that the Government is supportive of a creative exchange of views, with respect for opposing opinions.

The Ministry also defended the police in their performance of their duty to ensure peaceful protests, adding that the police have avoided the use of violent force to protect the safety of the protesters and people around the protest sites.

The Ministry added, however, that some protesters had broken the law and the police had to take action against them, without double-standards.

Those who were arrested can defend their cases in the courts of law, said the Ministry.