At FORUM-ASIA, we employ a range of strategies to effectively achieve our goals and create a lasting impact.

Through a diverse array of approaches, FORUM-ASIA is dedicated to achieving our objectives and leaving a lasting imprint on human rights advocacy.

Who we work with

Our interventions are meticulously crafted and ready to enact tangible change, addressing pressing issues and empowering communities.

Each statements, letters, and publications are meticulously tailored, poised to transform challenges into opportunities, and to empower communities towards sustainable progress.

Multimedia Stories

With a firm commitment to turning ideas into action, FORUM-ASIA strives to create lasting change that leaves a positive legacy for future generations.

Explore our dedicated sub-sites to witness firsthand how FORUM-ASIA turns ideas into action, striving to create a legacy of lasting positive change for future generations.

Subscribe our monthly e-newsletter

Thailand: Government and Media Crack Down on Rights to Assembly

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

In response to the crackdown of the United Democratic Front against Dictatorship (UDD) demonstrations by the media in Bangkok, Thailand, the government and the media are criticised for not respecting the rights to assembly of those with different political views.

The first clash between the police officials and demonstrators after the 19 September 2006 coup d’etat in Thailand emerged on Sunday 22 July 2007. Human rights groups in the country have come out in condemnation of the use of violence against the United Democratic Front against Dictatorship (UDD) on the night of Sunday 22 July 2007, by the forces of the Royal Thai Police.

The UDD, an umbrella network of anti-coup groups, were demonstrating peacefully against General Prem Tinsulanonda, the member of the Privy Council who is alleged by the anti-coup groups as masterminding the coup last year.

The 5,000 strong-demonstrators were marching from Sanam Luang to the residence of General Prem, demanding for him and the coup leaders to resign, reinstate the deposed 1997 constitution, and urged the interim government to hold an election immediately. The brawl began at Makkawan Bridge when about 2,000 police officers tried to block the protesters by approaching them with batons and shields and attempting to arrest the anti-coup leaders who were speaking on top of a truck.

There were also attempts by the riot police in firing at the protesters with tear gas and hitting them with batons, leading to a confrontation with the demonstrators, who then retaliated by throwing water bottles, rocks, and debris at the police. Given this situation, more than 250 protesters and police were injured, many are in critical state.1

Human rights defenders have widely accused the police of using an unjustified amount of force on what was a peaceful demonstration, stating that the violent retaliation from protestors was a consequence of attempts by the police to arrest the leaders of the group by using tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowd.2

General Surayud Chulanont, the interim Prime Minister, had once stressed that rule of law, transparency, justice, and democracy were to be the priority of the interim government.3 The Thai government, which has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), needs to observe Article 21 of the Covenant “the rights of peaceful assembly shall be recognised”.

The tendency of the Thai media to demonise the anti-coup demonstrators as those instigating violence also raises striking concern4. The media’s role is to reflect both sides of each story, not to serve as the mouthpiece of the government. The media plays an important factor in peace-building and has an obligation to portray impartiality in news reporting.

The Royal Thai Police also needs to abide by the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials which highlights that law enforcement officials shall “respect and protect human dignity and maintain and uphold the human rights of all persons”. The code also emphasises that the use of force could be used only for “the prevention of crime…no force going beyond that may be used”.5

If the citizens’ rights to express their disapproval and criticism against the government are faced with pepper spray, water cannons and demonisation by the media; how will rule of law and democracy prevail in society?

Anti-coup chiefs issue challenge. Bangkok Post, 24 July 2007 (Pg. 1)

Exclusive Interview: Heated Night in Front of Si Sao Resident – From the Perspective of the Peace Unit ‘Jin Krammachon’. Prachatai News Network, 24 July 2007, (in Thai).

Our Nation today: The Choices we face, Address to the Nation by Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont, 10 June 2007.

See Manager Media Group. (in Thai). The new network has used headlines to create hatred on the demonstrators such as, “UDD Destroying the Nation in Supportive of Authoritarianism – Government Urged to Swiftly Deal with Them”.

Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials, Adopted by General Assembly resolution 34/169 of 17 December 1979.