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Human rights group condemns killing of Thai poet

A human rights group on Thursday called for quick investigation into the killing of a Thai poet known for his support for the pro-government Red Shirt movement and criticism of the country's lese-majesty law.

An unidentified assailant shot dead Kamol Duangphasuk, 45, outside a Bangkok restaurant on Wednesday. Kamol was a supporter of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, better known as the Red Shirts, and a critic of the lese-majesty law that makes defamation of the king, queen and heir apparent punishable by three to 15 years in prison.

"Kamol’s murder heightens the climate of fear felt by those who speak out against Thailand’s draconian lese-majeste law," said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch."The Thai authorities need to quickly investigate this murder andbring whoever is responsible to justice, wherever that investigationleads," Adams said in a statement issued in New York.

Kamol’s killing comes at a time of heightened political tensions, and unsolved attacks on prominent figures. On Monday, unknown assailants launched a grenade at the house of Narong Sahametapat, the Health Ministry’s permanent secretary and an outspoken critic of the current government. No one was injured.

Kamol supported the pro-government Red Shirts, who are often labelled as anti-monarchists, a charge their leaders deny. There has been surge in lese-majesty cases over the past nine years, as the monarchy has been dragged in to the political conflict between those who support and those who oppose fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, a populist politician who was ousted by a coup in2006.

"The brutal and outrageous killing of poet and Red Shirt activistKamol can only worsen the already tense political situation inThailand," Adams said.


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