Stop criminalization and intimidation against the Thai youth!

Detention without trial and denial of bail is injustice! Youths have the right to determine their country’s future!

To the Prime Minister, The Government of Thailand

To the President, the Supreme Court of Thailand

We, La Via Campesina, the international peasant movement, express our deep concern about the ongoing intimidation, detention and criminalization of young activists and peasant leaders who took part in Thailand’s pro-democracy and peasants’ rights movements.

We are informed that at least 20 young people were detained without trial for their engagement in the political actions to demand democracy and monarchy reform. These young people now face hefty charges of sedition, cybercrime, lèse-majesté and violating the emergency decree.

At the time of issuing this letter, these young people have not been granted the right to bail. Three detained young people are on hunger strike. Two of them are young women who stopped eating for more than 50 days.

Detention without trial, denial of the right to bail, and intimidation are essentially the strategy that authoritarian governments use to create fear among the young activists to silence and suppress them. We see these also happen worldwide, in other struggles and daily lives of peasants and working people.

Among the detained is Ms Katanyu Muenkhamruang, imprisoned two weeks ago. Katanyu is a youth leader who participates in Assembly of the Poor (AOP) activities. AOP is a member organization of La Via Campesina in Thailand. She is an alumna of the Florestan Fernandes National School for youth leaders of the Landless People Movement (MST) and a member of La Via Campesina in Brazil. She also joined the First La Via Campesina Asian Youth Meeting some years ago. Like other young political prisoners, her right to bail has been repeatedly denied.

Furthermore, we also received the news that Ms Nisapun Muenram, the youth representative of the Assembly of the Poor (AOP) in La Via Campesina’s Asia Youth Collective, was intimidated by the police. The police went to Ms Nisapun’s home, citing her participation in the protest on July 27th, demanding the right to bail for the young political dissidents. Although she is safe now, she is at risk because of such intimidation tactics.

The youth, keepers of our future, has the righteousness and rightfulness to participate in political actions to determine and realize a socially just world. As a global movement for food sovereignty and peasants’ rights, we condemn the criminalization and intimidation against the young people in Thailand.

La Via Campesina would also like to express our solidarity with the brave young people in Thailand. They are not alone in their struggle. There are countless youth and movements in many parts of the globe who share the same dreams to transform the world for the better.

La Via Campesina calls on the Government and the Supreme Court of Thailand to stop criminalization and intimidation against the youths and ensure their unconditional release. Dissent is not a crime.  

We demand safe public spaces for the people of Thailand, including the youth, to express their right to freedom of opinion and expression. We stand by the people’s right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Declaration on the rights of peasants and other people in rural areas (UNDROP). The government should protect and uphold these human rights so that these youths can build the future of their society and their country.

Bagnolet, France

La Via Campesina

03 August 2022