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Amnesty asks supporters to petition for no further prosecution

Feb 19. 2018
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By The Nation

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Amnesty International on Monday called for its supporters worldwide to write letters urging the Thai authorities to stop prosecuting pro-election MBK 39 activists, as well as any other Thais pursued as a result of performing peaceful assembly.

“Throughout [the more than] three and a half years since the coup, we have found that the military [-installed] government has strictly suppressed and curbed people’s space on human rights, especially on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly,” the London-based human-rights organisation said in a call for urgent action.

“Many people with dissidence against the coup or the said government have been arbitrarily detained, prosecuted by the government’s order and brought to the military court,” Amnesty said. “These [acts] are very inconsistent with international laws and human-rights standards.”

Amnesty also called for the revocation and amendment of Thai laws in ways that would not infringe people’s rights.

As the name MBK 39 suggests, an accidental group of 39 activists, students and journalists have been subject to charges for joining an assembly – held near MBK shopping centre in downtown Bangkok – to call for the long-delayed general election to be held on January 27.

They were accused of allegedly breaking the junta’s ban against political gatherings of five or more people, and of violating the Public Assembly Act. 

Nine of them, considered to be key figures, were also charged with sedition.

Although now released on bail or without conditions, they will still face prosecution. 

While conviction under the Public Assembly Act carries a maximum penalty of a year’s imprisonment, Article 116 of the Criminal Code allows for wrongdoers to receive as much as seven years in jail.

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