JAKARTA – The ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) urged Thai authorities on Monday to stop the repression and persecution of an opposition leader and parties critical of the military government.
Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, leader of the Anakot Mai (“Future Forward”) party, was suspended from his status as a lawmaker in the lower house of parliament last week by the Constitutional Court for allegedly violating electoral laws by holding shares in a media company, an accusation he denies.
The Thai politician is also accused of sedition and violating the Computer Crimes Act, and could face several years in jail if found guilty on any of these charges.
“The Thai authorities’ pursuit of trumped-up criminal cases against Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit and other anti-military actors is a clear attempt to undermine critics of the junta,” said the chairman of APHR, Charles Santiago – who is also a member of Malaysia’s parliament – in a statement.
“All charges against lawmakers, journalists, activists and others who have done nothing but express peaceful opinions must be dropped immediately,” he added.
Elections were held in Thailand on March 24 after five years of military rule led by General Prayut Chan-ocha as prime minister, following a coup in 2014.
Anakot Mai was the third-largest party by vote share and won 80 seats in the lower house in the latest elections. It is a part of a coalition that seeks to form a new government while keeping out the pro-junta party, Prayut’s Palang Pracharat.
Thanathorn had also announced his intention to hold the country’s top elected office.
The 500 elected members of the lower house of the parliament and 250 members of the Senate – all of whom were hand-picked by the junta – are due to meet at the end of May to choose the country’s next prime minister.
ASEAN – the Association of Southeast Asian Nations – comprises the countries of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.