2014 Thai coup d'état

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2014 Thai coup d'état
Part of the 2013–14 Thai political crisis
2014 0526 Thailand coup Chang Phueak Gate Chiang Mai 01.jpg
Thai soldiers at the White Elephant Gate, Chiang Mai
Date 22 May 2014
Location  Thailand
Result
Belligerents
Royal Thai Armed Forces Royal Thai Government
Commanders and leaders
Prayuth Chan-ocha Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisan

On 22 May 2014, the Royal Thai Armed Forces, led by General Prayuth Chan-ocha, Commander of the Royal Thai Army (RTA), launched a coup d'état against the caretaker government of Thailand, following six months of political crisis. The military established a junta called National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to govern the nation.

After dissolving the government and the Senate, the NCPO vested the executive and legislative powers in its leader and ordered the judicial branch to operate under its directives. In addition, it partially repealed the 2007 constitution, declared martial law and curfew nationwide, banned political gatherings, arrested and detained politicians and anti-coup activists, imposed internet censorship and took control of the media.

Background[edit]

In the 2011 general election, Yingluck Shinawatra and the Pheu Thai Party (PTP) obtained a landslide victory and formed the government with Yingluck as prime minister. Anti-government protests, led by former Democrat Party secretary general Suthep Thaugsuban, began in November 2013. Suthep later formed the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) for the purpose of demanding the establishment of an unelected "people's council" to supervise a "political reform". Pro-government groups, including the Red Shirts, held mass rallies in response. Violence occasionally occurred, resulting in a number of deaths and injuries.[1][2]

In December 2013, Yingluck dissolved the House of Representatives and scheduled a general election for 2 February 2014. Disrupted by the anti-government protesters, the election was not completed on that day. The Constitutional Court then nullified the election on 21 March 2014.[3] On 7 May 2014, the Constitutional Court unanimously removed Yingluck and nine other senior ministers from office over the controversial transfer of a top security officer in 2011.[4][5] The remaining ministers selected Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Commerce Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisan to replace Yingluck as caretaker prime minister as protests continued.[6]

Immediately prior to the coup[edit]

Martial law imposition[edit]

General Prayuth Chan-ocha, RTA Commander.

The RTA intervened on 20 May 2014, when its commander General Prayuth exercised the power under the Act promulgated by King Vajiravudh (Rama VI) entitled Martial Law, BE 2457 (1914),[7] to impose martial law nationwide as from 03:00 hours (local time). He said through a television pool that the imposition was due to continuous violence from various sides and was for the purpose of allowing the army to maintain and restore peace in a more effective manner.[8][9]

After imposing martial law, General Prayuth ordered the dissolution of the Centre for Administration of Peace and Order, a police body formed by the caretaker government to resolve the crisis. He then established a Peace and Order Maintaining Command (POMC) with himself as its commander. Charged with the duty to "restore peace to the people from all sides without delay", the POMC is initially given the power to "prevent, suppress, abate and resolve" any situation affecting national security, to enforce every provision of the martial law and to summon any person. General Prayuth also ordered the personnel of the police, navy, air force and Ministry of Defence to be subject to the POMC.[10][11]

In Bangkok, soldiers were stationed in many places[12] and the main roads were blocked.[13] The military retook the Government House from the PDRC protesters[14] and seized all television stations in Bangkok and some other parts of the country[15][16] before shutting down some stations, including those of the PDRC and the Red Shirts.[17] General Prayuth later ordered all media to replace their regular programs with the POMC programs whenever he requires[18] and imposed a ban on publishing information which may affect the military's missions.[19] He also directed all government agency chiefs to report to him.[20]

On 21 May 2014, the POMC established an internet censorship task force and ordered internet service providers to report to it in order to control online content.[21]

The caretaker government stated that it had never been consulted about the martial law related decisions of the army, whilst the army claimed that the move was not a coup d'état and the government remained in office.[22]

Unsuccessful talks[edit]

After its establishment, the POMC held talks with the rival groups for two days in attempt to find resolution. It was reported that the participants were of conflicting opinions and no agreement could be adopted.[23] Moreover, during a talk, the caretaker government was requested by the Election Commission to resign.[24] But the government denied the request, saying it was required by the constitution to stay in office.[25] The 2007 constitution prescribed that the cabinet vacates office en bloc upon dissolution of the House of Representatives but it shall remain in office and continue to function until a new cabinet takes office.[26]

In the afternoon of 22 May 2014, the POMC held another talk at the Thai Army Club on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road.[23] The talk had proceeded for five hours[27] without reaching agreement, whilst the government maintained that it bore a legal duty to remain in office. At the meeting, General Prayuth eventually said to Minister of Justice Chaikasem Nitisiri who led the government representatives: "The talk knows no end because you all only speak about the law. [...] The government insists that it won't resign, right?" Chaikasem replied: "Not at this moment". General Prayuth then told the meeting that "Sorry, I must seize power"[28][29] and ordered the detention of the cabinet members as well as the leaders of the PDRC, Red Shirts and political parties who attended the talk, much to the dismay of the media representatives who were also present.[23] They are being held at the First Infantry Regiment of the King's Guards.[30]

Coup[edit]

Soldiers at the White Elephant Gate in Chiang Mai

Launch of coup[edit]

On the evening of 22 May 2014, General Prayuth announced through a televised address that the armed forces were assuming control of national administration,[31] formally launching a coup d'état against the caretaker government and establishing the NCPO to rule the state.[23]

Later that night, the NCPO repealed the 2007 constitution, save the second chapter which deals with the king. In addition, it formally ordered the dissolution of the caretaker government, but the Senate as well as all other state agencies, including the courts and the independent organs, were kept intact.[32] The NCPO announced its own composition as follows:[33]

  • General Prayuth (RTA Commander) as its leader,
  • General Thanasak Patimaprakorn (Chief of Defence Forces), Admiral Narong Pipathanasai (Royal Thai Navy Commander), Air Chief Marshal Prajin Jantong (Royal Thai Air Force Commander), and Police General Adul Saengsingkaew (Royal Thai Police Commissioner General), as its deputy leaders,
  • General Udomdet Sitabut (RTA Deputy Commander) as its secretary general.

The NCPO then announced that its leader will exercise all powers and duties which the laws invest in the prime minister and the cabinet, until there is a prime minister.[34][35] It also placed its members in charge of the government ministries and equivalent agencies.[36][37]

On 24 May 2014, the NCPO dissolved the existing Senate and granted the legislative power to its leader.[38] It ordered the judicial branch to operate under its directives.[39] It also transferred Police General Adul to an inactive post in the Office of the Prime Minister and replaced him with Police General Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit. Adul was seen as a loyalist to the deposed government.[38]

Arrest and detention of public figures[edit]

Immediately after the coup was launched, Caretaker Prime Minister Niwatthamrong, who did not attend the talk, left his office at the Ministry of Commerce so as to avoid being apprehended by the military.[25][40] The NCPO then ordered him and the cabinet members who were not detained to report to the military within that day.[41] It was reported that Niwatthamrong attempted to establish a government-in-exile at the United States embassy in Bangkok, but the embassy denied the report.[42]

On the night of 22 May 2014, military officers detained additional politicians, including Chalerm Yubamrung and his sons.[43] The following day, the NCPO summoned PTP members and Shinawatra family members, including Yingluck.[44][45] Niwatthamrong and Yingluck surrendered themselves to the NCPO on that day.[46] Yingluck was detained at an undisclosed "safe house".[47][48] The NPOC said it released her on 25 May.[49]

The NCPO later summoned another 114 prominent figures from both sides[50] and stated that those who refuse to submit to it will be apprehended and prosecuted.[51] Activist Sombat Boonngamanong, better known as Dotty Editor, was the first person who refused to surrender, saying "Hilarious. Not reporting [to the junta] is considered a criminal offense." He challenged the summons by posting on his Facebook: "Catch me if you can".[52][53] The NCPO responded by stating that in the morning of 24 May, it will send soldiers to apprehend those who failed to appear.[54] One of those apprehended on that day was Panthongtae Shinawatra, a nephew of Yingluck.[55] Sombat was eventually apprehended on 5 June 2014 in Chon Buri Province. The military tracked him down through the internet, using the IP address he used to post his comments.[56] In addition to two years in jail for violating its orders, the military said Sombat will face seven years of imprisonment on grounds of encouraging people to violate its orders, which are the "Law of the Nation". The military also said that those who provided residences to Sombat are to be dealt with by two years in jail on account of "harbouring a criminal".[57]

The NCPO also summoned all diplomatic corps in Bangkok to its headquarters. In its summons, it said the corps were merely "invited" to a meeting with the military figures, so that they would have "correct understanding" about its missions.[58] However, many foreign ambassadors to Thailand, including German Ambassador Rolf Peter Schulze, refused to go.[59]

Former Minister of Education Chaturon Chaisaeng was the first person to be tried in a military court for failing to appear as summoned by the NCPO. Soldiers apprehended Chaturon in front of a crowd of foreign journalists immediately after giving a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand on 27 May 2014. An NCPO spokesman also said that holding a press conference to foreign media is deemed improper and against NPCO policy.[60][61][62] Chaturon faces fourteen years of imprisonment in consequence of computer crime charges.[63]

Martial law allows the military to detain people for no more than seven days.[7] However, the NCPO does not observe the time limit. Some individuals have been held incommunicado for more than three weeks.[64]

Control of public activities and media[edit]

Upon announcing the coup, the NCPO laid down a ban on political gatherings and directed all protesters to disperse.[33] It ordered all educational institutes, both public and private, to close from 23 to 25 May 2014.[65] It also imposed a curfew throughout the country, ordering the people to stay indoors from 22:00 to 05:00 hours.[66] The curfew time was later changed to 24:00 to 04:00 hours, effective from 28 May 2014.[67] The curfew was lifted in most part of the country on 13 June 2014.[68]

Furthermore, the NCPO ordered all television and radio stations to stop airing their own regular programs and to broadcast the RTA programs only.[69] It detained Wanchai Tantiwittayapitak, deputy director of the Thai Public Broadcasting Service which operates Thai PBS station, after he permitted the station to live broadcast a special program about the coup on YouTube instead of television.[70][71] On the program, several scholars, including Chulalongkorn University lecturer Gothom Arya, were interviewed and gave negative comments on the coup.[72] Thai PBS said Wanchai was taken to the First Army Area headquarters to "tune in understanding between the media and army".[73]

On 23 May 2014, the NCPO summoned all media chiefs to the Thai Army Club and ordered the internet service providers to censor any information deemed provocative, causing public disturbance, containing official secrets, likely detrimental to national security, or defamatory to the NCPO.[74] It also threatened to shut down social media if its operator fails to block information inciting unrest or inciting "opposition to peacekeeping".[75]

In the afternoon of 23 May, the analogue television networks, except Thai PBS, were allowed to resume their normal programs,[76] after the NCPO ordered the internet service providers to block all broadcast sharing attempts on the internet and instructed the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission to shut down internet based television.[77] All digital television networks were permitted to resume their broadcast the following day.[78]

On 24 May 2014, the media organisations issued an open letter urging the NCPO to end the restriction of press freedom as soon as possible.[79] The NCPO responded by summoning all media operators, instructing them that they were required to attend a meeting with the NCPO first.[80]

Post-coup[edit]

Future roles[edit]

The NCPO stated on 23 May 2014 that it aimed to conduct national "economic, social and political" reforms before elections can be permitted.[81][82] It said a reform council and a national assembly will be set up to work on the reforms.[83] It also said it wanted to handle, inter alia, the rice pledge project problems, and will carry out a project of constructing roads on both edges of the Chao Phraya River.[81] The road construction project was originally initiated by the PTP in 2012 and was part of the flood control project.[84]

General Prayuth said he will run the country until the situation requires an interim government.[83] In administering the country, he said he will use the military command and control systems which he believed would develop the country.[85] The NCPO also announced that its leader will determine the policies on national administration, both "short-term and long-term".[36]

Unlike in previous coups, there have been no promises of a quick return to civilian rule.[48] On 26 May, the NCPO held a press conference at which a Thai Rath journalist asked General Prayuth if he would become a new prime minister himself. Prayuth did not refuse, answering: "It is already in the plan." Another journalist from the Bangkok Post asked when an election will happen. Prayuth replied: "[An election] depends on the situation. [There is] no deadline. That's enough," before walking out of the conference room.[86] The following day, both journalists were summoned by the NCPO on grounds of "giving questions that lessen public confidence in the ruler".[87]

An NCPO spokesman also said that normal democratic principles could not be applied at the current time.[88] The Sydney Morning Herald reported that the military's decisions showed that General Prayuth is preparing "a long-term pervasive takeover without the calling of quick elections".[89]

On 29 May 2014, Lieutenant General Chatchalerm Chalermsukh, deputy army chief of staff, told reporters at a press conference in Bangkok, while elections would held, there was no timetable. "Right conditions" would have to be put in place before an election took place, he said.[90] A day later in a national television address, General Prayuth said elections would not be held for at least fifteen months. He warned against resistance to the military and called on all sides to co-operate and stop protesting.[91]

Royal endorsement[edit]

On 24 May 2014, the NCPO said King Bhumibol Adulyadej had acknowledged the coup, but stopped short of describing the response as an endorsement.[92] However on 26 May 2014 the King formally appointed General Prayuth to run the country. In Thailand the monarchy is highly respected and royal endorsement is seen as legitimation of the takeover.[93]

Lèse majesté cases[edit]

At a press conference on 23 May 2014, the NCPO said one of its missions is to "severely" deal with lèse majesté offenders in Thailand and ordered the government officers to uphold this mission.[85]

On 25 May 2014, the NCPO authorised the military courts to try all cases concerning lèse majesté, sedition, national security and violation of NCPO orders.[94]

On that day, the NCPO searched the residence of Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, an imprisoned magazine editor sentenced in 2013 to 11 years in jail for lèse majesté. The NCPO detained his wife, who had been campaigning for political prisoners, and his son, a fourth year student at the Faculty of Law, Thammasat University.[95] Other critics of the lèse majesté law are being detained, as well.[96]

The NCPO later summoned a number of activists accused of lèse majesté and living in exile, including former Chulalongkorn University political science lecturer Giles Ji Ungpakorn and former minister Jakrapob Penkair. They were ordered to appear by 9 June 2014.[97]

Provisional constitution[edit]

On 23 June 2014, it was announced that a provisional constitution would soon be issued to replace the 2007 constitution. The provisional constitution was drafted by Chulalongkorn University law lecturer Wisanu Kruangam.[98]

The provisional constitution will provide for the establishment of a national legislature, a reform council and an interim cabinet, inter alia. The national legislature will consist of 200 members handpicked by the NCPO and more than half of whom will be military officers.[99] The reform council will be composed of 250 members, also handpicked by the NCPO.[100]

The provisional constitution will also provide for the preparation of a new permanent constitution which will be carried out by a constituent committee consisting of 35 members, that is, 20 members of the reform council, 5 members of the national legislature, 5 members of the interim cabinet and 5 members of the NCPO.[98] The draft will be approved by the reform council before signed into law by the king.[100] It was originally required that the draft be approved by the citizens in a nationwide referendum before it is forwarded to the king for his signature. The requirement was, however, disapproved by the NCPO and was deleted.[98]

The provisional constitution will place the NCPO in control of the interim cabinet and empower the NCPO to, in the interest of national security, issue any orders which will all be deemed lawful.[99]

Domestic responses[edit]

Pro- and anti-government protesters[edit]

Many PDRC protesters applauded the announcement of the coup at their rally sites.[101] Phra Buddha Issara, a Buddhist monk and PDRC co-leader, went onto the protest stage to proclaim the victory of the anti-government protesters before requesting his followers disperse and go home.[102] Soldiers took the pro-government protest sites and fired shots in the air to disperse the protesters.[103]

The last group of protesters left Bangkok in the evening of 23 May 2014.[104] The NCPO provided 70 military cars to send the protesters from both sides home.[105]

Anti-coup[edit]

Public protests[edit]

In spite of a ban on political gatherings of more than five people,[106] demonstrators, including Thammasat University students, marched to the Democracy Monument on 23 May 2014 to express their anger at the coup.[107] However the military stopped them from proceeding to the monument, citing fear of violence and clash.[108]

On the same day, separate protests also took place outside the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, led by freelance media, artists and social activists. However, soldiers sent by the NCPO detained the protesters. A live round was fired and the whereabouts of the apprehended are not known.[109][110]

On 24 May 2014, a group of people held an anti-coup protest in front of Major Ratchayothin Cinema in Bangkok, where a company of troops with riot shields was stationed.[111] On that evening, another group of at least 1,000 protesters marched to the Victory Monument. The military tried to stop their procession, using a police truck. Some of the protesters were apprehended but were released after negotiation.[112][113]

At midday of 25 May 2014, a group of anti-coup protesters gathered in front of a McDonalds restaurant at Ratchaprasong, the heart of Bangkok. Soldiers, however, arrived and seized the area.[114][115] Another group of people tried to march from the Victory Monument to the Pathum Wan Intersection rallying against the coup. But the military managed to block them.[116]

Anti-coup protests also took place outside Bangkok. In Chiang Mai Province, a group of people clad in black as a sign of protest held anti-coup activities for days, including marching to the city's ancient walls where they performed a candle-lit ceremony opposing the military's action.[117] Some of them, including a woman, were apprehended by military on 24 May.[118] Anti-coup rallies also occurred in several other provinces. In Khon Kaen Province, students held a ceremony to bid farewell to democracy in front of Central Plaza Khon Kaen shopping mall where military officers were stationed.[119] In Maha Sarakham Province, students held an anti-coup protest in the middle of the city but soldiers came and seized protesting materials, such as banners.[120] A group of Thai people living in Australia held anti-coup activities at Kings Park, Perth, on 26 May.[121]

A number of anti-coup activists outside Bangkok were later summoned by regional military courts and were detained without charge.[122]

On 10 June 2014, Chalard Vorachat, a retired pilot officer and renowned hunger striker, sued the NCPO before the Criminal Court. Chalard alleged that the NCPO, by staging the coup, committed insurrection. The court dismissed the case, ruling that Chalard was not the victim and was therefore not entitled to institute the case, although Chalard claimed that he was the victim because his rights and liberties had been affected by the coup.[123]

Online activities[edit]

Anti-coup sentiment was also echoed on Thai social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Line,[107] even though the military had previously warned that it would block social media if material critical of the coup was published.[124]

A reporter, Pornthip Mongyai, was dismissed by her news agency, Mono Group, after a photo in which Pornthip, wearing a press armband, stood next to a line of soldiers with an "X" taped over her lips went viral on the internet.[125]

In response to anti-coup activities on social media, the NCPO ordered the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT) to block Facebook in Thailand "from time to time", effective from 28 May 2014. On that evening, Facebook was blocked for about an hour throughout the country.[126] The MICT stated on 24 May that more than 100 URLs have been blocked under martial law.[127]

People calling for protests on social media have been warned that they will face prosecution for sedition.[128] The military also said that liking an anti-coup page on Facebook constitutes a criminal offence.[129]

Anti-coup symbols[edit]

Thai protesters against the coup used the three-finger salute from The Hunger Games film series, symbolising their opposition to the coup.[130] The three fingers represent equality, liberty and brotherhood.[131] The military announced that it will arrest anyone who uses the salute.[132]

Protesters then adopted sandwich as their new anti-coup symbol. They held activities of handing out sandwiches to those who wanted them, shouting "Sandwiches for democracy!".[133] On 22 June 2014, a student eating sandwiches in front of Siam Paragon and a group of students who were to organise a sandwich activity at the same venue were apprehended and were later placed under detention.[134] These students were said by the military to have committed an offence of "possessing sandwiches with ill intent".[135]

Apart from using the three-finger salute and eating sandwiches in public, two other acts of expressing anti-coup stance have been criminalised: reading George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four in public, and wearing shirts with certain slogans such as "Peace Please" and "Respect My Vote".[135]

Private citizens performing other symbolic acts have also been apprehended and detained. These included: an aged woman wearing a mask with the word "People",[136] a man shouting "I'm a common citizen who feels shame because there's another coup in my country",[137] a fried squid vendor wearing a red shirt,[138] a group of people having their own eyes, ears and mouths covered,[139] a group of movie commentators and artistic activists intending to organise the displaying of the film Nineteen Eighty-Four,[140] a group of people holding activities in front of Wat Phra Si Mahathat, a temple in Bangkok, to commemorate the transition of absolute monarchy to constitutional monarchy on 24 June 1932,[141] a student playing "La Marseillaise" in public,[142] a group of people holding papers written "Where are the people?",[143] and a man holding a paper saying "Holding papers is not a crime".[144] They will be tried in military courts for sedition.[143]

Pro-coup[edit]

On 25 May 2014, a pro-coup group held a counter-rally at the Democracy Monument calling on the NCPO to conduct reforms before a general election. The following day, a group of officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs held a similar rally.[145]

Political parties[edit]

Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said on 25 May 2014 that he was sorry that he could not protect democracy.[146] However, the following day, he urged the NCPO to take tough measures against anti-coup groups.[147]

PDRC leader Suthep Thaugsuban alleged that he had already talked to General Prayuth about how to exclude Thaksin and his family from power as early as in 2010. He also claimed that before declaring martial law, General Prayuth told him that "Khun Suthep and your masses of PDRC supporters are too exhausted. It's now the duty of the army to take over the task".[148]

Academic and religious sectors[edit]

The coup also met with strong reactions from Thai academics, with the majority expressing serious concern over its negative impact on Thailand's democracy and human rights. But some Thai academics argued that there was no other solution to Thailand's problems.[149]

A group of university lecturers, who call themselves the Assembly for the Defence of Democracy (AFDD), issued a statement on 23 May 2014, emphasising the right of the people to offer resistance to an illegitimate ruler and requesting the military to promptly release the detained protesters. In its statement, the AFDD said:[150]

A good ruler shall not rule by force. He must be accepted by the public, must gain public consent, must keep his words, and must acquire faith and trust from everyone. If the NCPO treats the people as its enemy and keeps on suppressing them by force, it will face endless resistance and will have to suppress countless people. Eventually, there will be no one left to be ruled.

On that day, the AFDD members gathered in front of the Dome Building of Thammasat University to express their anti-coup stance.[151] The scholars from the Midnight University also issued a statement denouncing the coup and demanding the resignation of the National Human Rights Commission.[152]

The academic sector also called on the NCPO members to disclose their interests to the public. However, the National Anti-Corruption Commission said that it is not required by any law.[153]

On 26 May 2014, Phra Paisal Visalo, a monk renowned for his roles in human rights protection, denounced the coup, saying "Even though this coup brought an end to some urgent problems [...], it is the beginning of new various problems which are surely more serious".[154]

In response to heavy opposition from the academic sector, military officers have been stationed at some higher education institutions to prevent their academics from expressing political opinions or holding political activities. These included Thammasat University's Tha Pra Chan Campus in Bangkok.[155]

The NCPO summoned leading pro-democracy scholars. Despite the NCPO threatening that those failing to show up will face criminal penalties, the summoned said they will not submit to the military.[156][157] A number of scholars failing to appear were later apprehended, such as Thammasat University law lecturer Sawatree Suksri who was apprehended at Suvarnabhumi Airport on 7 June 2014 after travelling back from the United States on a US embassy study trip about human rights.[158]

The military also ordered Thai diplomats to take measures to force the return of the summoned academicians living abroad.[159] One of the targets is Pavin Chachavalpongpun, a Thai associate professor at Kyoto University who challenged the summons by asking if he can send his pet chihuahua to meet with General Prayuth in his stead.[160][161] The Thai ambassador in Tokyo and consul general in Osaka have both been told by the military that if they fail to force Pavin to return, they will either be transferred or forced out of the foreign service.[159] On 13 June 2014, the NCPO issued an arrest warrant against Pavin.[162]

International responses[edit]

Government sector[edit]

Supranational[edit]

  •  EU
    • The Council of the European Union concluded on 23 June 2014 that the EU and its member states will not sign the partnership and cooperation agreement with Thailand, until a democratically elected government is in place, and that other agreements will also be affected as appropriate.[163]
    • The European External Action Service called for the military to accept and respect the constitutional authority of the civilian power and stressed "the importance of holding credible and inclusive elections as soon as feasible".[164]
  •  UN
    • Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, issued a statement through his spokesman, expressing concern over the coup, calling for "a prompt return to constitutional, civilian, democratic rule" and movement towards cooperation between the parties.[165]
    • Navi Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, condemned the coup. She said her office has monitored the situations for the past five months and she is "deeply concerned about the forcible replacement of an elected government, the imposition of martial law, the suspension of the constitution and the emergency measures that are restricting the enjoyment of human rights". She also urged prompt restoration of rule of law in the country.[166]

States[edit]

  •  Australia – Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop expressed that she was "gravely concerned" over the military coup and described the situation as "volatile". She also urged Australian travellers to exercise caution and pay close attention to their security, there are an estimated 5000+ Australians currently in Thailand.[167]
  •  Cambodia – Cambodian government officials expressed concerns that tensions could rise at the Cambodia–Thailand border, where a dispute has been ongoing since 2008. Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said "We wish to see this [coup] not jeopardizing democratic transition, maintaining peace and stability, and still respecting [and safeguarding] the will and interest of the Thai people" while adding that nothing is expected to change at the Cambodia–Thailand border. Siphan also said that the government would always respect the mutual interests of the two countries.[168]
  •  Canada – Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird condemned the coup and said "This decision violates Thailand's democratic principles and stands in stark contrast to the Army's earlier assurances that its role would be limited to securing public order. We hope and expect the Thai military will return Thailand to civilian rule as soon as possible, respect democratic processes and the rule of law, ensure freedom of expression and assembly, and guarantee due process for those who have been detained."[169]
  •  Chile – The Foreign Affairs Ministry issued a statement condemning the coup and saying that they "trust that the political crisis affecting the partner and friendly nation and its people, can be quickly and peacefully resolved through means that will allow the recovery of democratic coexistence".[170]
  •  China – Foreign Ministry issued a brief statement expressing its concern over the situation and hoped for the order to be restored in Thailand.[171]
  •  Colombia – The Foreign Affairs Ministry, through a press release, reiterated its concern about the current situation in the "allied nation" of Thailand and condemned the "break of the institutional order that was caused by the coup". Colombia called for dialogue, between the public armed forces and the Kingdom of Thailand, in order to reestablish a participative Democracy while also "advocating for the constitutional rights of all Thai citizens."[172]
  •  France – President François Hollande condemned the coup and called for "an immediate return to the constitutional order and for a vote to be organised".[173]
  •  GermanyGerman Minister for Foreign Affairs Frank-Walter Steinmeier issued a statement condemning the coup, calling for the rapid holding of elections and restoration of constitutional protections.[174]
  •  Indonesia – In a statement issued by Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, Indonesia "calls upon the Armed Forces of Thailand and various relevant civilian elements to work together in a reconciliatory atmosphere to quickly restore the political situation in Thailand". He also states that Indonesia will communicate with Myanmar, which is ASEAN chairperson for 2014 to "mobilize ASEAN’s contribution in establishing a condition conducive for the restoration of political condition in Thailand".[175]
  •  JapanFumio Kishida, the Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs, issued a statement calling for the rapid restoration of democracy in Thailand.[176]
  •  Malaysia – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs advised Malaysian citizens to avoid travelling to Thailand for the time being and postpone any non-essential visits to the country. Malaysian citizens present in Thailand are also advised to abide by the curfew for personal safety and security reasons.[177] Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad had commented that the coup in Thailand will not affect Malaysia politically or economically, saying that since independence in 1957 Malaysians have been law-abiding citizens.[178]
  •  PhilippinesDepartment of Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said "the Philippines supports a peaceful resolution of the present situation" and "hopes for an early return to normalcy consistent with democratic principles, the rule of law and the will and interest of the Thai people."[179]
  •  Russia – The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs called for a prompt return of the political process and constitutional protections.[180]
  •  South Africa – The South African government, through its spokesman Clayson Monyela, condemned the coup and called on "all relevant parties to work speedily and through an inclusive process towards the restoration of constitutional order".[181]
  •  Singapore – A spokesperson for the Singaporean Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed "grave concern" over the coup.[182]
  •  Turkey – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey stated that, "We regret the decision of the Thai armed forces to suspend the constitution and take control of the government. Turkey, as a matter of principle, is opposed to the dismissal of governments that have come to power by popular vote, by non-democratic methods.[183]
  •  UKForeign Secretary William Hague issued a statement urging "the restoration of a civilian government that has been democratically elected, serves the interests of its people and fulfils its human rights obligations".[184] The Foreign Office announced that it would review military ties with Thailand and cancelled a number of military visits.[185]
  •  USA – Secretary of State John Kerry issued a statement condemning the coup, saying that he is "disappointed" by the army's decision and "this act will have negative implications for the U.S.–Thai relationship, especially for our relationship with the Thai military."[186] A joint military drill was cancelled and military aid suspended.[187]

Non-government sector[edit]

  • A group of Thai studies scholars from twenty universities in Australia, Canada, Denmark, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States jointly published an open letter in which they said, "You [General Prayuth] requested that citizens 'carry out their lives and occupation as usual', but nothing could be normal about the political and social conditions put in place by the coup. The coup cannot be a measure for peace because the coup itself is the use of violence." They called on the NCPO to return immediately to constitutional rule by a civilian government and to provide a concrete timeline for such return.[188]
  • Amnesty International (AI) issued a statement saying that arresting peaceful anti-coup activists is a "dangerous precedent" and "maintaining public order cannot be an excuse for violating human rights." It also urged the NCPO to clarify the whereabouts of those arrested and detained.[189] AI later denounced the military action against leading anti-coup activist Sombat Boonngamanong, describing it as part of "a systematic and widening crackdown on key human rights". Its Asian director Richard Bennett said "This is the latest in a disturbing wave of arrests of people purely voicing disquiet about the military regime. The army's course of action is looking increasingly like a purge."[56]
  • The Asian Human Rights Commission condemned the NCPO for threatening academics and activists, called for the immediate release of the detainees, and expressed grave concern over the rapid decline of human rights protections in the country.[190]
  • Human Rights Watch described the NCPO's actions as the exercise of "draconian martial law powers" and called for the immediate end thereof. Its Asian director Brad Adams said, "The Thai army needs to recognize that the government should be determined by the ballot, not the bullet."[191]
  • Noam Chomsky said he was "deeply disturbed to learn about the threats against Professor Pavin Chachavalpongpun" and hoped that those threats will quickly be withdrawn and that Pavin can "resume his life without government repression".[192]
  • Stars of the Hunger Games showed their support for anti-coup protesters who have been using the films' three-fingered salute as a way of showing opposition. One of the cast members, Natalie Dormer, described the use of the salute as "incredible" and said "Anything that galvanises people in a positive way to fight against oppression cannot be criticised in any shape or form."[132]

Impacts[edit]

The United States suspended $3.5m in military aid to Thailand from its overall aid package of $10.5 million[193] and cancelled military engagements, including military visits and training.[194] It also urged tourists to cancel trips and halted non-essential visits by its government officers.[193]

Some border checkpoints between Thailand and neighbouring states have remained closed following the coup.[195][196]

The Ministry of Tourism and Sports said on 27 May that the arrival of "foreign tourists has dropped by 20 per cent".[197]

The coup also resulted in the cancellation of Taylor Swift's concert, formerly scheduled on 9 June 2014, in Bangkok,[198] and the postponement of several events, including USA Fair 2014 scheduled during 30 May–2 June 2014.[199]

Asia Sentinel reported on 9 June 2014 that Thai rights groups estimated that some 200 people remained in detention since the coup happened.[159]

After the NCPO vowed on 11 June 2014 to deal with illegal foreign workers in Thailand, saying "we see illegal workers as a threat",[200] a very large number of foreign migrants, more than half of whom were women and children, immediately left the country on that day. The International Organization for Migration described the event as a "sudden influx" and expressed its concern thereover.[201] The BBC reported on 16 June 2014 that more than 180,000 Cambodians have fled Thailand after the NCPO announced the crackdown.[202] A group of Cambodians died in a car accident on their way to the border and this enraged the Cambodian government which said the Thai military must be held responsible for all the problems that have occurred.[202] Burmese migrants in Northern Thailand were arrested and were released only after a "protection fee" was paid. Rights groups said employers in Southern Thailand had also advised their foreign workers to go into hiding in the woods or rubber plantations to avoid arrests.[203]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Media[edit]