Amnesty calls for restraint

national January 13, 2014 00:00

By The Nation

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Authorities must protect and respect human rights during the mass protests planned for Bangkok this week, Amnesty International said yesterday.

All protest leaders should impress on their followers not to commit human rights abuses, it said. 
Protesters have vowed to stage mass demonstrations and freeze state offices until the government steps down. The government has deployed some 15,000 military and police to the capital. 
“The situation in Thailand is tense, volatile and unpredictable. There is a real risk of loss of life and injury unless human rights are fully respected,” said Isabelle Arradon, deputy director for Asia-Pacific. 
“Security forces should ensure that the right to peaceful protest is upheld. However, they also have a duty to protect the safety of the public. When carrying out their work, law enforcement officials should apply non-violent means before resorting to the use of force, and always exercise restraint in its use.” 
“The authorities must also uphold peaceful exercise of the right to freedom of expression, including by protecting media workers from harassment and intimidation.” 
The protests have escalated since Parliament passed a controversial amnesty bill in November, which was later rejected. The opposition has said it will boycott the snap election on February 2 called by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. 
At least eight people have been killed and scores injured during the protests, which started in November. In the most recent incident on Friday, four people were hurt when clashes broke out between pro- and anti-government groups in Pathum Thani, just north of Bangkok. 
Amnesty International calls for a full, thorough and independent investigation into all incidents resulting in injuries and deaths. Where sufficient and admissible evidence is obtained, any suspects should be prosecuted. 
“It is crucial that authorities ensure redress for these deaths, and accountability for past abuses in Thailand, which have led to loss of life or serious harm,” she said. 

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