Demands on junta

A joint statement has been issued on the constitutional referendum by an unusual group of 108 persons (105 in some reports) and five organizations. What is unusual is that the 108 includes persons from all sides of politics in the usually divided country. The group made four demands:

1. The referendum must be conducted in a free, transparent, and fair manner in accordance with international principles and standards.

2. In the process towards the referendum, there must be open and inclusive debates, participated by those who agree and disagree with the content of the draft constitution. Voters must have access to accurate, comprehensive, and thorough information on the draft constitution, as well as, a safe and public space to voice their disagreements under the laws.

3. People have legitimate rights to freedom of expression and to voice their opinions constructively on the draft constitution which is the highest law of the country. Such basic political rights which shall be protected. Suppression on people’s rights to express their views on the draft constitution by using measures related to security, including taking people to detention in the name of attitude adjustment is not only a violation of basic human rights, but also delegitimises the referendum process as a whole.

4. Before the referendum is conducted, there must be clearly defined options for what happens in case the draft constitution does not pass the referendum, in order to reach a consensus on a constitution agreeable to all sides. People of all groups and all sides must be able to debate and to propose these options freely and constructively.

While the statement and its demands challenge the junta, it does appear to accept the notion that a referendum can be held to complete a process that has been illegitimate from the beginning.

The group read its statement to the public “despite Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon’s warning ahead of the announcement that such a move would break the referendum law.”

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