Letter Of Thai National Human Rights Commissioner: Jaran Ditapichai

Bangkok
25 July, 2007
Mr. Homayoun Alizadeh,
Regional Representative,
Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
UNESCAP

Bangkok
Thailand

Dear Sir,

I, Mr. Jaran Ditapichai, an interim National Human Rights Commissioner and one of the leaders of the United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), would like to draw your attention to the recent act of human rights violation against a peaceful rally organized by the UDD on last Sunday July 22, 2007.

A Peaceful gathering and demonstrations of democratic and anti-dictatorship protesters have been organized by the UDD every night at Sanam Luang over these past two months during which several protest marches of tens of thousands of people protesting against the military junta were carried out peacefully and successfully without any violent clash. The UDD and its political assembly adheres to non-violence, and moreover with our past lessons of the Thai democratic movement which led to several bloody suppressions, we take great pre-cautions to avoid violent clash and we do our very best to protect human lives.

On July 22, the UDD led a demonstration of about 30,000 protesters from Sanam Luang to protest against the Privy Council President General Prem Tinsulanonda who we believe was the key person behind the 19 September 2006 coup d’etat. The prtotesters left Sanam Luang at around 2 PM where we were later obstructed twice on the way to the Privy Council President’s residence , however, we could manage to peacefully negotiate with the police and moved through the barriers without any clash. We reached General Prem Tinsulanonda’s residence at around 5 PM and set up our stage to demand for his resignation from the post of the President of the Privy Council. At around 9:30 PM, the several hundreds of policemen, with anti-riots shields and batons, moved in to disperse the crowd in order to arrest the speakers and the leaders who were on the stage. I witnessed the incidence myself as I was one of the speakers on the stage. Four such attempts by the police took place at approximately 20 minutes interval. The police used their batons, pepper and tear gas to disperse the crowd causing 42 minor to severe injuries with 6 arrest who are still being detained. The people tried to protect us, speakers on the stage, pushing back the police force with their bare hands; throughout the time, we made announcements from the stage asking the police not to hurt the people and observe our rights to assembly and to demand for democracy. It was apparent that military personnel was mixed with the anti-riot police force in use for the operation while military troop was on standby ready to move in for the final suppression. We decided to retreat back to Sanam Luang in order to avoid further possible violent suppression in order to save the lives of the protestors.

As a human rights advocate, this brutal action to disperse the crowd is against the rights to lives and physical integrity of the people; it is against the rights to assembly and expression of our democratic movement. The police is now preparing for a court order to arrest 18 leaders including me in an attempt to put an end to our struggle for democracy.

I request your attention and demand that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights report to the Human Rights Council and Treaty body of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Yours sincerely,

Mr. Jaran Ditapichai

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