Amnesty International Condemns Thai Government for Suppression of Expression

By Evie Chomchuen and Fan Wang

Amnesty International attacks Thai government over the detention of a Hong Kong student activist in Thailand on October 4, raising concern on the right to freedom of expression in Thailand.

The 19-year-old student activist Joshua Wong was invited by a Thai student activist to visit and speak out against the military leadership. Wong was detained on arrival at Suvarnabhumi airport and remained in custody for 12 hours.

The human rights organization said in its press statement that the decision to block Joshua Wong, a pro-democratic activist student, “underscores the [Thai] government’s willingness to suppress the right to freedom of expression and raises concerns about how China is using its influence over Thai authorities.”

“The detention and deportation of Joshua Wong are yet another indicator that Thailand’s military government will use any available means to stifle political discourse in the country,” said Amnesty International’s senior research advisor for South East Asia and the Pacific Champa Patel.

Amnesty International and the UN condemned Thailand last year for forcibly deporting two Chinese dissidents to whom it had previously granted refugee status.

What Happened?

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A Thai security report obtained by Associated Press indicates that more than 10 police officials from the Royal Thai Police Special Branch and Immigration Police were waiting for Wong when he arrived at Bangkok’s main airport, according to the New York Times.

Wong told reporters he was detained alone inside a cell for almost 12 hours. “When I asked what (was) the reason for them detaining me … they just said: ‘We will not give you any explanation. You have been blacklisted already,’” he said.

On Wednesday the Thai junta’s spokesman Lt Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd explained why Wong had been detained and deported.

“Mr. Wong had been active in resistance movements against other foreign governments, and that if such actions were taken within Thailand, they could eventually affect Thailand’s relations with other nations.”

Wong planned to give a speech promoting democracy at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok on Thursday October 6 — the 40th anniversary of Thailand’s pro-democracy massacre .

Before noon on Wednesday, Wong was put on a Hong Kong Airlines flight heading to Hong Kong.

A spokesperson for the US embassy in Bangkok said: “We support individuals exercising their universally recognized fundamental freedoms of opinion, expression, peaceful assembly and association throughout the world.”

“China respects Thailand’s exercise of immigration control according to the law,” China’s foreign ministry said in a brief statement.

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Wong(middle) in Hong Kong Umbrella Revolution in 2014.

Wong, 19, is the secretary general of Demosistō, a political party. In 2014, he led a massive Occupy protest that demanded genuine general suffrage. He was named as one of TIME’s Most Influential Teens of 2014, while also nominated for TIME’S Person of the Year 2014, and listed by Fortune as one of the world’s greatest leaders in 2015.

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