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Joint Statement

53 Labor Organizations from 15 Countries in Asia and Across the Globe Condemning the Intimidation of Labor Activists in Thailand


16 August 2021


We, the undersigned organizations, condemn the legal intimidation of Suthila Leunkam, Tanaporn Wijan, Sriprai Nonsee, and Sia Jampathong: prominent Thai labor activists who have been subject to legal intimidation and police harassment following their work organizing pro-democracy rallies. Suthila, Sriprai and Tanaporn are former women unionists and leading labor activists while Sia is a garment unionist with political acuity. Their courage and integrity has contributed to the autonomy and strength of the independent trade union movement in Thailand. They have done outstanding work towards bridging the gap between domestic and migrant workers and building labor power in the ongoing pro-democracy movement.

We condemn the blatant violence enacted by riot police against protesters peacefully exercising their freedom of expression in the rallies which occurred in Bangkok between August 1st and 15th. We are gravely concerned about the ongoing practices of arbitrary arrests, detention without due process, and the criminalization of pro-democracy activities by state authorities. According to the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, 32 protesters were arrested for attending the August 3rd protest, at least 18 people were arrested before and shortly after the protest on August 7th, and at least 64 people, including 16 youth under the age of 18, were arrested between August 10th and 11th. Prominent activists also continue to be denied proper legal representation under the pretense of pandemic precautions.


Background

Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2019, the Thai government has weaponized existing laws to silence dissidents and brutally suppress protests, injuring citizens with impunity. We see this as part of a wider trend whereby the pandemic has been used as an excuse to tighten the grip of dictators across Southeast Asia.

With the mishandling of the pandemic response and corruption allegations surrounding the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines as impetus, protesters recently took to the streets demanding better crisis management to meet the needs of the people. In response, the government used escalating violence to silence protesters, injuring scores of protesters, journalists and bystanders. Moreover, rising numbers of activists have been targeted and harassed by security forces. These include labor activists and leaders of the trade union movement who are voicing the grievances of workers bearing the brunt of this pandemic.

We are joining the growing pro-democracy movement not only in Thailand but across Asia in demanding that Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha take full responsibility for corruption surrounding the vaccine, violent suppression of protesters, as well as mishandling of this dire health, economic and social crisis. Prayuth must meet the people’s demands and immediately resign, dissolve the parliament and begin the drafting process for a new constitution.


List of Endorsing Organizations:

1. Just Economy and Labor Institute (JELI), Thailand

2. The Workers' Union, Thailand

3. SEA Left network, Thailand

4. Human Rights and Development Foundation, Thailand

5. Peace Way Foundation/Migrant Working Group, Thailand

6. Labor Network for People's Rights, Thailand

7. SHero, Thailand

8. Sedane Labour Resource Centre (LIPS), Indonesia

9. Working People's Party (PRP), Indonesia

10. Indonesian Confederation of United Workers (KPBI), Indonesia

11. Sentral Gerakan Buruh Nasional (SGBN), Indonesia

12. Konfederasi Serikat Nasional (KSN), Indonesia

13. Konfederasi Pergerakan Rakyat Indonesia (KPRI), Indonesia

14. Asia Floor Wage Alliance (AFWA), Indonesia

15. Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights (CENTRAL), Cambodia

16. BWI Asia Pacific, Philippines

17. Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (Solidarity of Filipino Workers/BMP), Philippines

18. Center for Trade Union.and Human Rights (CTUHR), Philippines

19. SPA, Philippines

20. Sentro Publiko, Philippines

21. Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO), Philippines

22. Federation and Cooperation of Cola, Beverage and Allied Industry Union (FCCU-SENTRO), Philippines

23. Alliance of Filipino Workers, Philippines

24. Partido Manggagawa (Labor Party), Philippines

25. LEARN, Philippines

26. Timber Industry Employee Union, Malaysia

27. Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM), Malaysia

28. Union of Forestry Department Employees Sarawak (UFES), Malaysia

29. Sabah Timber Industry Employees Union, Malaysia

30. Timber Employees Union Peninsular, Malaysia

31. Socialist Youth, PSM Youth Wing, Malaysia

32. National Union of Transport Equipment & Allied Industries Workers, Malaysia

33. AMMPO MALAYSIA, Malaysia

34. Labour Law Reform Coalition, Malaysia

35. North South Initiative, Malaysia

36. UNI-MALASIA LABOUR CENTER, Malaysia

37. CAW, Malaysia

38. Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor (Friends Of Women Selangor), Malaysia

39. International Domestic Workers Federation, Hong Kong

40. Asia Monitor Resource Center, Hong Kong

41. Korean House for International Solidarity (KHIS), South Korea

42. OSAN MIGRANT CENTER, South Korea

43. APWSL, South Korea

44. Serve the People Association, Taoyuan (SPA), Taiwan

45. Migrants International Taiwan Chapter, Taiwan

46. Textile Garments Workers Federation, Bangladesh

47. Worker's Initiative - Kolkata, India

48. Public Services International, Asia Pacific Regional

49. Socialist Alliance, Australia

50. Brighi Cecilia, Italia

51. Bakone Trade and Workers Rights Center South Africa, South Africa

52. FIRST Union, New Zealand

53. FETICO, Spain


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