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Thursday, 6 February 2014 - Strasbourg
Situation in Thailand

European Parliament resolution of 6 February 2014 on the situation in Thailand (2014/2551(RSP))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Thailand of 5 February 2009(1), 20 May 2010(2) and 17 February 2011(3),

–  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948,

–  having regard to the Universal Periodic Review of Thailand before the UN Human Rights Council, and its recommendations, of 5 October 2011,

–  having regard to the statements by the Spokesperson of EU High Representative Catherine Ashton, of 26 November 2013 on the political situation in Thailand, of 13 December 2013 and of 23 January 2014 on the recent events in Thailand, and of 30 January 2014 on the coming elections,

–  having regard to the statement issued by the Delegation of the European Union in agreement with the EU Heads of Mission in Thailand on 2 December 2013,

–  having regard to the press briefings by the Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights of 26 December 2013 and 14 January 2014,

–  having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) of 1966,

–  having regard to the United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials of 1990,

–  having regard to Rules 122(5) and 110(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas demonstrations started in November 2013, after the Thai Parliament’s Lower House adopted an amnesty bill introduced by the ruling Pheu Thai Party (PTP) for various crimes committed since 2004 by political leaders and government officials, including Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra; whereas the former prime minister has been in self-imposed exile since 2008 to avoid a two-year jail term following a conviction in a corruption-related case;

B.  whereas in protest against the proposed amnesty bill, peaceful demonstrations began in Bangkok on 11 November 2013, spearheaded by former Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, leader of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), an anti-government group; whereas street protests continued despite the rejection of the amnesty bill by the Thai Senate;

C.  whereas on 20 November 2013, the Constitutional Court rejected a proposed amendment to the Constitution transforming the Senate into a fully elected body and also rejected an opposition petition to dissolve the Pheu Thai Party, which increased anti-government protests;

D.  whereas Deputy PM Suthep Thaugsuban accused the government of being illegitimate and proposed that the parliament should be replaced by an unelected ‘People’s Council’ to carry out political and institutional reforms;

E.  whereas during the unrest, which has lasted for months, several people have been killed and hundreds have been injured, among them Kwanchai Praipana, a leader of Thailand’s pro-government faction, who was shot and wounded on 22 January 2014, and Suthin Tharatin, a Thai anti-government movement leader, who was shot dead on 26 January 2014;

F.  whereas on 21 January 2014, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra declared a 60-day state of emergency in the capital, Bangkok, and the surrounding provinces, banning public gatherings of more than five people, allowing people suspected of violence to be held in custody for up to thirty days, authorising censorship of news inciting violence and granting immunity from criminal prosecution to government agencies and officials involved in the enforcement of the decree;

G.  whereas the Constitutional Court ruled on 24 January 2014 that elections could be postponed due to the unrest, but the government decided to go ahead with advance votes starting on 26 January 2014;

H.  whereas general elections took place in Thailand on 2 February 2014 and voting started on 26 January 2014, despite the call by the Election Commission for the polls to be delayed because of the ongoing unrest;

I.  whereas the main opposition party, the Democrat Party, announced it was pulling out of the elections scheduled for 2 February 2014;

J.  whereas on 26 January 2014, voting was cancelled in 83 of the 375 constituencies nationwide because anti-government protesters cut off access to polling stations, blocked election officials and prevented voters from exercising their right to vote;

K.  whereas, despite the low turnout, following a meeting with the Election Commission on 28 January 2014 the Prime Minister confirmed that the 2 February 2014 election date would be maintained;

L.  whereas no voting took place in nine provinces, and protesters reportedly disrupted electoral registration and blocked voting in parts of Bangkok and the south of the country, with an estimated 69 of 375 districts of the country and 8.75 million voters affected by disruptions;

M.  whereas Thai law stipulates that the legislature cannot re-open unless at least 95 % (or 475 seats) of the 500 seats are filled; whereas by-elections will therefore have to be held in the affected areas;

N.  whereas the parliament will not be able to convene and a new government cannot be formed, threatening to create a political vacuum that is likely to prolong the crisis;

1.  Expresses deep concern over the degeneration of political and socioeconomic differences into violent clashes between government and opposition, and between demonstrators and security forces in Thailand, and expresses its solidarity with the Thai people who have suffered due to the unrest and all the families whose loved ones have been killed or injured during the past months;

2.  Calls on the Thai authorities to fully investigate the recent cases of violence that led to several deaths and injuries and to prosecute those responsible;

3.  Calls on all parties to respect the rule of law and to abide by democratic principles; stresses that elections must be free and fair and condemns the destructive actions of anti-government protestors who prevented voters from casting their ballots on 26 January 2014 and 2 February 2014;

4.  Calls on the Thai authorities to protect freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association; appeals to the authorities to immediately revoke the state of emergency as the existing laws are adequate to deal with the current situation;

5.  Calls on both government supporters and anti-government demonstrators to refrain from any political violence and move forward within Thailand’s democratic and constitutional framework;

6.  Calls on the leaders of the Democrat Party to allow the parliament, elected by the people of Thailand, to fulfil its mandate;

7.  Underlines the fact that the proposal of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee for an unelected ‘People’s Council’ to replace the government and rule the country for up to two years is undemocratic;

8.  Urges the government, the Electoral Commission and the opposition to engage immediately in a constructive dialogue and initiate an inclusive and time-bound process of institutional and political reforms, which could be approved through a national referendum and followed by inclusive, secure, free and fair elections;

9.  Welcomes the fact that the National Human Rights Commission has called a consultative meeting of intellectuals, representatives of social movements, religious leaders and the four former Prime Ministers, Anand Panyarachun, Banharn Silapa-acha, Chavalit Yongchaiyudh and Chuan Leekpai, to look for and put forward a solution to end this crisis;

10.  Urges the military to maintain their neutrality and play a positive role in order to ensure peaceful resolution of the ongoing crisis;

11.  Is concerned regarding the occupation of public office buildings and television broadcasting stations, the intimidation of the media and the charges of criminal defamation brought against two journalists based in Phuket;

12.  Recalls that the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials state that authorities must, as far as possible, apply non-violent means before resorting to the use of force and firearms and, whenever the lawful use of force and firearms is unavoidable, must use restraint and act in proportion to the seriousness of the offence;

13.  States its support for democracy in Thailand, while noting the excellent nature of EU-Thai relations and Thailand’s role as a source of prosperity and stability in the region; underlines the fact that negotiations for a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between the EU and Thailand have been concluded and engage the two parties to reaffirm their strong attachment to democratic principles and human rights;

14.  Urges the international community to put all its efforts into stopping the violence; urges the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to follow the political situation closely and coordinate actions with ASEAN and the United Nations in order to foster dialogue and strengthen democracy in the country;

15.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Government and Parliament of Thailand, the Secretary-General of ASEAN and the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

(1) OJ C 67 E, 18.3.2010, p. 144.
(2) OJ C 161 E, 31.5.2011, p. 152.
(3) OJ C 188 E, 28.6.2012, p. 57.

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