June 24 marks 83 years since absolute monarchy was ended in Thailand, by a prodemocracy revolution. However during the last 83 years, democracy has not been allowed to become fully established and government institutions to develop because of regular military Coup d’état, approx 12 successful to date. This coupled with the 19 constitutions that have been mostly imposed on the Thai people have weakened political development and restricted progress towards a mature democracy in Thailand
Even though Thai people, especially university students, have slowly become more aware of these core problems and observed how constant military interventions have restricted the growth of Thailand into a mature democracy, they have been killed in the hundreds by the Royal Thai army whenever they have attempted to protest for their basic democratic rights. On October 14 1973, October 6 1976, May 1992 and May 2010 peaceful protests were met with brutal military force with peaceful protesters massacred by the military at the behest of the conservative Royalist establishment.
We would like to point out that in the last 10 years the crisis has politically become more serious as the country has divided into two camps. The majority on one side is prodemocracy and stand behind their elected representatives while on the other side is the minority anti-democracy group supported by the Military, the old establishment royalist elite, the conservative judiciary and other so called independent institutions under their control.
Over the last 10 years 4 democratically elected governments have been removed by both military and judicial Coup d’état and this has directly resulted in the divisions we see in Thai society today, with the will of the majority of Thai people constantly thwarted by the anti-democracy minority.
The anti democracy movement fully supported the last Coup d’état by the so called National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) on 22 May 2014. The NCPO established a dictatorship under control of the Military and they applied marshal law and an interim constitution giving themselves unlimited power and an amnesty for any misdeeds they carried out. During this period approximately 1000 objectors to military dictatorship were summoned for “Attitude Adjustment” euphuism for illegal detention and torture where as part of the process detainees were forced to sign a document authorising the confiscation of all their property should they object again to military rule.
Another tool of oppression that has been deployed with ever increasing frequency against those who oppose military dictatorship is Lese Majeste. This law allows the military junta an almost guaranteed conviction with a term of up to 15 years for each deemed offence, e.g. send a text message and get 15 years, send 2 text messages and get 30 years. Hundreds of people have been incarcerated by the application of this archaic and medieval law.
Thai people continue to fight for democracy and many groups have been formed who don’t accept the Coup d’état and rule by military dictatorship, Seri Thai (Organisation of Free Thai for Human Rights and Democracy, FT-HD) is one such group formed on June 24, 2014 to campaign for human rights and democracy.
A year on, FT-HD continues to campaign for the return of basic human rights and democracy in Thailand. FT-HD in particularly aims to support both Thai people who have been forced to seek asylum abroad, because of their prodemocracy political views, and students in Thailand who fight against military dictatorship and carry out peaceful political protests.
To mark the 83 year anniversary of Thai democracy FT-FD would like to declare that:
1 We are together with Thai students, against dictatorship, and continue to stand with all prodemocracy groups in demanding the immediate release of all political prisoners, anti-dictatorship detainees, students and pro-democracy professors.
2 We do not accept the proposed military constitution written by NCPO and do not accept the proposed referendum on the junta leader extending his dictatorship for 2 more years.
3 We request that the international community pays close attention to the human rights abuses happening in Thailand and request their support in returning Thailand to democracy with rule of law and basic human rights for all citizens. We also request that the EU community assist us in achieving our goal of a return to democracy and human rights in Thailand.