BANGKOK: Thailand faces a “moment of shame” when the U.N. Human Rights Council reviews its rights record on Wednesday (May 11), a rights group said, amid fresh arrests of online critics accused of criticising the junta.
The crackdown comes as Thailand’s military government prepares to put a widely criticised military-written constitution to the public in August.
The military seized power in a May 2014 coup saying it had to end a bitter cycle of political unrest that had rocked Thailand since 2006 when the army ousted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
Rights groups say the junta has tightened its grip on power and severely repressed rights in the past year. It has jailed critics, introduced new laws aimed at curbing freedom of speech, censored the media and restricted political debate.
The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a cyclical review of the human rights record of the 193 United Nations member states.
Thailand, which was last reviewed in 2011, is one of 14 countries being questioned by the UPR working group in the current session, which ends on Friday.
“It will be a moment of shame for the Thai government at a major international forum where Thailand once was honoured and respected,” Sunai Phasuk, Thailand researcher for Human Rights Watch, told Reuters.
“I hope it will send a clear message back to Bangkok that they immediately have to reverse their course.”
Colonel Winthai Suvaree, a spokesman for the junta, said it wants the Thai delegation to “tell the…