Rights group criticizes Thai censorship, military abuses


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Censorship remains rife and the Thai army used excessive force in its crackdown on anti-government protesters in Bangkok last year, said leading rights group Amnesty International in its global human rights report released Friday.

Thailand's political crisis has “polarized” society for a fifth straight year and more than 90 people were killed and at least 2,000 injured in last year's street clashes, which incited the government to invoke the draconian Internal Security Act in March that led to “many provisions that contravened international human rights law and standards”. The Emergency Decree remained in place in Bangkok and three other provinces for most of the rest of the year.

“The security forces used excessive force, including lethal use of firearms and 'live fire zones', which killed several unarmed protesters and bystanders.” Amnesty also pointed out that some protesters and elements “seemingly” aligned with them were armed and firing at the Thai military.

The government continues to clamp down on freedom of expression by making use of the Internal Security Act, the lèse majesté law and the 2007 Computer-related Crimes Act. Among the more bizarre incidents last year was the arrest in Ayutthaya of Amornwan Charoenkij, who was nabbed for selling "slippers" emblazoned with the face of Abhisit Vejjajiva and a message about the May violence.

Meanwhile, human right abuses continue unabated in the southern provinces, where security forces torture suspects and armed groups indiscriminately target civilians.

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