Human Interest

Ultra-royalists seek to oust Amnesty International from Thailand

Bangkok, Feb 17 (EFE).- A group of Thai ultra-royalists launched a harassment campaign against rights organization Amnesty International seeking to expel it from the country for allegedly supporting pro-democracy protests, which seek changes in the Royal Household.

The group led by Deputy Minister Seksakol Atthawong delivered more than 1 million signatures Thursday to the Interior Ministry to take their claim to the National Security Council.

The supporters of the Thai Royal House accuse the organization of supporting the movement of university students that since mid-2020 have called for a democratic reform in the monarchical institution and that, in their opinion, risks destabilizing the country.

“Thailand is a peaceful country, but this organization incites people to destroy security and disturb the Thai way of life into chaos. The king never causes trouble, but this organization uses foreign money in order to ruin the monarchy,” Seksakol said Thursday before the media without evidence.

The minister wore a yellow tie – the color linked to the current monarch and his late father – and was surrounded by a handful of ultra-royalists, most of them elder citizens.

The harassment campaign began in November, when Seksakol himself promoted a collection of signatures through a public form on Google, raising suspicions about the validity of the announced support.

Despite the harassment, the organization said hours before Seksakol delivered the signatures its commitment to continue working with “the aim of impartially protecting human rights.”

“Our job remains the same: to prevent, monitor and hold states, corporations and other entities accountable for human rights abuses under international law,” said Kyle Ward, the organization’s Deputy Secretary General, adding that he was willing to answer questions from authorities.

The organization, which has a small office and a number of local employees in Thailand, has repeatedly called for the release and immediate withdrawal of charges against political activists detained for participating in pro-democracy protests.

These marches demand among other things, the abolition of Article 112 of the Penal Code that protects the king and other members of the Thai Royal House from criticism, under the threat of sentences of between three and 15 years in prison.

At least 169 activists have been accused of violating this law during demonstrations, which were mostly peaceful but were sometimes harshly repressed by the police.

“While we recognize that the Government of Thailand has a duty to protect public order and national security, we continue to stress that the authorities must do so proportionately and in accordance with human rights, including the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of expression. peaceful assembly,” Ward said. EFE


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