Thailand: Govt defends locking up demonstrators

  • A senior figure at the Justice Ministry has defended the arrest of 15 pro-democracy demonstrators and insists their detention is within the law.
  • Pitikan Sithidej was responding to human rights agencies’ statements calling for the immediate release of the activists from the group known as People Who Want Election.
  • Ms Pitikan, the Justice Ministry’s Department of Rights and Liberties Protection director-general, said the case has entered criminal justice process and charges pressed against the protesters corresponded to what was stated in the law.
  • Further justifying the police action, Ms Pitikan said the action of the police did not violate any human rights. She said she understands that each group who came out to express their stances did so in accordance with the roles and responsibilities of their organisations.
  • However, Ms Pitikan added that any demonstration or any action has to respect the rights and laws of the country one is in.
  • The director-general said prior to the demonstration, the group had already filed for court permission, but the court rejected their request.
  • The comment came after many parties including international organisations such as the United Nations Human Rights Office (OHCHR), South-East Asia Regional Office, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International on 23 May 18 called for the release of the protest leaders.
  • The 15 pro-democracy activists remained detained at the police stations as the officers said they had not finished investigating them. However, the officers would seek the Criminal Court’s permission for further detention at 10am on 24 May 18.
  • Veteran Pheu Thai Politician Sudarat Keyuraphan, via her Facebook account, also called for the unconditional release of the protest leaders, saying the release will foster an atmosphere of reconciliation in Thai society.

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