An Election Without Fundamental Rights

An Election Without Fundamental Rights News, Southeast Asia, Thailand
September 14, 2018

It has been four years since the ruling Pheu Thai party was removed from power in Thailand in a military coup.

Four years of flip-flops, of abrupt reversals of decisions, and of broken promises. Four years of propaganda, of detentions and of many attempts to subjugate dissent. Such is the way of the junta.

It’s obvious that the junta’s leader, General Prayuth Chan-o-cha has grand designs to continue ruling the coup-prone country. He expects Bangkok elites and middle class to support his agenda. He expects politicians to abandon their political parties to rally to his cause. He expects those living and working in the countryside to see the ‘wisdom’ of his road-maps.

Election Due By May 2019

Political parties will face an uphill battle to wrest the power from a system that favours the military establishment. Politicians from parties such as Pheu Thai, Democrat and Future Forward are still shackled by the rules of the junta. They are allowed to resume organizing for the first time since a 2014 military coup however a ban on gatherings or more than five people remains in place.

“Parties can communicate with their members electronically, but not appear to be campaigning,” the military regime said in a statement published in the Royal Gazette, while warning that authorities could block such communication “if it is illegal or a breach public peace”.

Current laws, policies, and practices of the ruling junta do not permit political parties to freely organize, express their views, or campaign.

“With an election approaching after four years of military rule, Thailand’s junta needs to fully return democratic freedoms to the Thai people and political parties participate fully in the process,” said Brad Adams, Human Rights Watch Asia director. “The government should rescind restrictive orders and restore freedoms of expression, association, and peaceful assembly.”

When human rights are restricted, and democracy principles are removed from the equation, one most definitely cannot expect, in a country choked by the military, a free and fair election.


When will democracy be restored in Thailand?

Video credit: Al Jazeera (21 May 2018)




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