Thailand: time to end abuses on all sides

Yesterday, Amnesty called for all sides in Thailand’s widening political conflict to immediately commit to ending human rights abuses, yet today the BBC reports that the Thai army has made explicit its determination to use live ammunition against "red-shirt" anti-government protesters in certain circumstances.

On the night of Saturday 10 April, the Thai military attempted to clear protesters of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) from Bangkok's old quarter, resulting in the deaths of at least 25 people (18 protesters, one foreign journalist, and six members of the security forces) and at least 840 wounded.

The military used lethal force in the operations. Amnesty welcomed the Thai government's pledge to investigate promptly, effectively, and impartially the recent violence. The authorities need to provide accountability for any violations by security forces.  

But some individuals among the protesters also used guns and grenades, as well as improvised weapons and we’d stress that freedom of assembly protects only peaceful assembly. Those who engage in human rights abuses must also be accountable for their actions irrespective of which side of the political divide they are from.

Meanwhile, the Guardian says opposition activists are fortifying positions in Bangkok. As through the volcanic ash cloud wasn’t enough for tourists, the increasingly tense standoff between soldiers and protestors has apparently closed five-star hotels and shopping centres and threatens to damage Thailand's image as a tourist destination.

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