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UA 120/91 - Thailand: legal concern / prisoners of conscience: Dee Boonluacha and 41 other Thai farmers

, Index number: ASA 39/011/1991

EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: ASA 39/11/91
Distr: UA/SC
UA 120/91 Legal Concern/Prisoners of Conscience 2 April 1991
THAILAND: Dee Boonluacha
and 41 other Thai farmers
Amnesty International is concerned that 42 farmers from Loeng Nokthaa district
in Northeast Thailand's Yasoothorn province were arrested on 2 March 1991 for
the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of assembly and expression.
Amnesty International urges that they be released immediately and
On 7 February 1991, farmers from the Beungkhaa and Saamyak areas of Loeng
Nokthaa district reportedly launched a protest rally to demand what they
considered just compensation for land they fear will be inundated or otherwise
adversely affected by an irrigation project being constructed by Thailand's
Royal Irrigation Department. The protest is said to have developed after local
authorities revised an earlier estimate of the amount of land to be affected.
The original estimate, which was put forward by the cabinet of deposed Prime
Minister Chatichai Choonhavan, reportedly offered compensation for some 750
hectares of land. Local authorities allegedly instead offered compensation
for only 160 hectares.
The gathering to demand greater compensation was reportedly conducted
on land worked and lived on by the protesting farmers. There is apparently
no evidence that it involved any violence or advocacy of violence. It continued
after the military coup d'etat of 23 February, until 2 March, when district
police arrested 42 people whom they considered to be protest leaders. According
to the latest information, they are still held in the Yasoothorn provincial
prison. They are accused of violating Announcement 7 of the National
Peace-Keeping Command, the body that carried out the coup d'etat. Announcement
7 prohibits political gatherings of more than five people.
On 23 February 1991 Supreme Commander of the Royal Thai Armed Forces, General
Sunthorn Khongsomphong, announced the overthrow of the government of Prime
Minister General (retired) Chatichai Choonhavan, the abolition of the
constitution and parliament, the imposition of martial law, and a number of
restrictions on civil and political liberties, including Announcement Number
7. With other military officers, he announced the establishment of a National
Peace-Keeping Council, now renamed the National Peace-Keeping Assembly (NPKA),
to run the country. Supreme Commander Sunthorn heads the NPKA, which also
includes the commanders of the army, air force and navy.
Prime Minister Chatichai was the head of the Chaat Thai (Thai Nation)
Party, which won the largest number of seats in the last general election in
1988. He became Thailand's first elected prime minister since 1976. As prime
minister, he had increasingly tense relations with senior military and police
officers, and was seen as challenging their influence over the country's
political life. In overthrowing the government, the NPKA accused it of
Despite the promulgation of the interim constitution and appointment
of an interim civilian prime minister, martial law and suspensions of civil
and political liberties remain in force. In addition, Article 27 of the interim
constitution gives the NPKA Chairman and the prime minister the authority to
order indefinite detention of political prisoners without charge or trial and
to order summary executions of any prisoner.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Telegrams/telexes/faxes/express and airmail letters:
- expressing concern that 42 farmers from Loeng Nokthaa district of Yasoothorn
province were arrested on 2 March 1991 for the peaceful exercise of their rights
to freedom of assembly and expression;
- urging that they be immediately and unconditionally released and that all
legal proceedings against them are dropped.
Prime Minister Anand Panyarachun
Government House
Nakhorn Pathom Road
Bangkok 10300, Thailand
Telegrams: Prime Minister Panyarachun, Bangkok, Thailand
Telexes: 84791 IMFODEP TH
(Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Faxes: + 66 2 281 6782
General Sunthorn Khongsomphong
Chairman of the National Peace-Keeping Assembly
Building 608
Supreme Command Headquarters
Sri Ayuthayaa Road
Bangkok 10300, Thailand
Telegrams: Gen Khongsomphong, Chairman NPKA,
Bangkok, Thailand
Telexes: 84791 IMFODEP TH
(Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Gen Itsaraphong Nunphakdii
Minister of Interior
Ministry of Interior
Atsadang Road
Bangkok 10200, Thailand
Telegrams: Minister Interior, Bangkok, Thailand
Telexes: 84791 IMFODEP TH
(Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Faxes: + 66 2 224 6191
+ 66 2 223 2215
The Governor
Ampheur Meuang
Yasoothorn Province 35000, Thailand
Union for Civil Liberty
109 Suthisarnwinitchai Road
Samesennok, Huaykhwang
Bangkok 10310, Thailand
and to diplomatic representatives of Thailand in your country
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 14 May 1991.

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