Hong Kong Unions protest today for Somyot’s release
Release Somyot and all other political prisoners in Thailand!
Drop the charges against all activists imprisoned or in exile!
Stop suppressing freedom of speech with Lese Majeste law and other repressive legislations!
Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU), Asian Transnational Corporation Monitoring Network (ATNC) and other labour groups today go to protest in front of the Thai Consulate General inHong Kong. They demand for the release of Somyot Pruksakasemsuk, a journalist and labour activist inThailandand all other political prisoners.
Somyot Pruksakasemsuk was arrested on the 30th April of this year. He was charged under Lese Majeste – article 112 of criminal code. A person can be charged under Lese Majeste if accused of defaming, insulting or threatening the royal family. These laws have been used by the present Thai government, headed by Abhisit Vejjajiva, to crack down on dissent and protest activities. This repression is targeted at labour and human right activists, journalists and supporters of democracy in the country. Since 2006, over 400 Thai activists are charged or detained under these laws. Many others are in exile overseas.
The groups also demand for freedom of speech and respect of human rights inThailand.
Below is the letter handed to the Thai Consulate General inHong Kong:
Prime Minister Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva
c/o Government House
Pitsanulok Road, Dusit District
29 June 2011
Your Excellency Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva,
We in the international Community are shocked to hear news of the re-arrest of Somyot Pruksakasemsuk and are very concerned for his safety in the prison.
We write to ask you for the immediate release of Somyot Pruksakasemsuk who was arrested on 30th April 2011 and is currently being held at Klong Prem Central Prison, in Bangkok.
We know Somyot Pruksakasemsuk through his work for the international trade union movement and we have been active in the campaign in 2010 to release him from Adisorn Army base in Saraburi. We have come to know him as a loyal Thai citizen who is strongly committed to Human Rights in his role as an independent journalist and academic promoting freedom of speech.
We understand that Somyot was arrested on a charge of defaming, insulting and threatening the King, Queen and heir apparent (Section112 of the Penal Code) a charge which he fully denies. He also was not aware that any arrest warrant had previously been issued and strongly denies any claim that he resisted arrest.
We were informed by Somyot Pruksakasemsuk from a letter written by him in prison on 2 May 2011. He believes that his arrest was due to the effort by him and other pro democracy activists to collect the 10,000 signatures needed to table for a repeal of section 112 of the Criminal Code/Lese Majeste Law in parliament. This action was done in a peaceful manner and according to the procedure prescribed by the 2007 Constitution.
We are concerned about the current state of human rights and democracy inThailand, where even peaceful and legal methods to express one’s views are suppressed and denied.
We believe that the country should move towards a genuine reconciliation in good faith and intention from all sides. Therefore any dissident voice should not be brutally suppressed, particularly prior to a national election. The arrest of Somyot for his peaceful activity will deter this process.
We further understand that the Criminal Court agreed with the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) to extend the detention of Somyot, it is something we believe to be an unacceptable abuse of Somyot’s human rights. Please urgently respond to this request for the immediate release of Somyot to allow him to organise his response to the charges against him.
Hong KongConfederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU)
Asian Transnational Corporation Monitoring Network (ATNC)
The photos of today’s protest can be downloaded at: https://picasaweb.google.com/Fiship.ctu/2011629FreeSomyotProtestInHongKong
For more information about Somyot case:
Today’s protest is one of the solidarity action inAsia. Coming actions include:
– The Indonesiaprotest will be held 10 am-12 pm-30 June–lead by KASBI. There will be protest, speeches and cultural events.
– TheAustralia protest will be held at 12,3opm, -1 July 2011-lead by Australia Asia Workers Link.The action will be organized infront of theBangkok consulate at theVictoria,Australia http://aawl.org.au/content/thailand-somyot-prueksakasemsuk-arrested-again