Human rights group Amnesty International has marked 100 days of martial law in Thailand with the release of a report evidencing cases of of alleged torture and ill-treatment, enforced disappearances as well as a host of extensive human rights violations.
In its ‘Attitude Adjustment’ report, the UK-based organisation outlined its concerns that “instead of lifting restrictions, authorities are maintaining and entrenching disproportionate restrictions on the peaceful and legitimate exercise of human rights in Thailand”.
Since martial law began, over 600 people have been ordered to report to the junta, arrested and/or arbitrarily detained – among them, 141 academics, writers, journalists and political activists, the report noted.
Yet due to the high number of informal reports, Amnesty noted, the actual number of those ordered to report is thought to be significantly higher.
In its report, Amnesty included evidence of alleged torture which took place during interrogation. These reports included beatings, death threats, mock executions and attempted asphyxiation. Others reported being blindfolded, with hands and feet tied – in the case of one detainee, for almost a week.
“(The NCPO) has implemented existing laws, Martial Law and new vaguely-worded orders to stop ‘political activities’ and ‘adjust attitudes’ of would-be dissenters,” the report stated. “Many of these laws and orders… violate human rights.”
Since May, the NCPO had extended “wide-ranging”measures to restrict freedom of expression, censoring hundreds of websites, closing radio stations, banning gatherings of more than five people and threatening those with arrest who post information deemed critical of the junta.
Amnesty issued over 30 recommendations to Thai authorities, calling upon the junta to conduct independent investigations into alleged cases of torture and ill-treatment, while safeguarding human rights in line with its international obligations.
In a written response, the junta stated that “the root causes of the imposition of martial law were omitted,” fearing the report had “failed to reflect the sentiment of the majority of the Thai people who now feel much safer.”
“There has been steady progress,” the junta stated. “Thailand needs this time and space for consolidation as we push forward in our effort to build a genuine and sustainable democracy.”
Yet Amnesty concluded that “the cumulative effect of these broad restrictions and the threat of detention and persecution for peaceful expression are engendering a climate of fear and a culture of enforced silence.”