The 112WATCH Project: Its First-year Anniversary

 
 
 
 
 
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On 1 September 2020, 112WATCH will celebrate its first-year anniversary. The project was launched on this day last year, by the prominent international advocate, Pavin Chachavalpongpun, also an associate professor at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University.
 
112Watch is a coalition of people and an organisation that value human rights and democracy. 112Watch aims to halt the Thai authorities’ escalating use of Article 112, Thailand’s lèse-majesté law, which is used to punish, to sideline and to silence citizens. During the reign of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) between 2014 – 2019 there were at least 98 individuals that had been charged with lèse-majesté. Afterward, during the 2020-2021 protests in Thailand. Prominent protest leaders have been judicially harassed, some have faced countless trials and now hundreds of years’ imprisonment. The situation is monstrous.
 
The founder, Pavin himself, has been charged with lèse-majesté for his criticism of the Thai monarchy. In the aftermath of the Thailand’s coup in 2014, he was summoned twice by the junta for “attitude adjustment.” On rejecting the summons, a warrant was issued for his arrest and his passport was revoked. He was forced to apply for a refugee with Japan. Pavin was also charged with lèse-majesté and cybercrime for his role in setting up a private Facebook group, the Royalist Marketplace, as a platform for open discussion on the monarchy. Launched in August 2020, it has 2.35 million members to date (as of September 2021). It is noteworthy that the first Royalist Marketplace was set up in April 2020. After four months and as the group reached a million members, the Thai government pressured. Facebook to geo-block the group. Facebook complied with the request.
 
112Watch seeks to achieve its key objective: To build an advocacy coalition to produce positive policy change in regard to Article 112 in Thailand. The goal is to establish networks among organisations at the international level; those that are working on the issue of human rights and freedom of speech. The networking is important in the search for sponsors/champions of human rights within the framework of the UN/EU.
 
The mission is to work with those sponsors/champions of human rights, making them realise the intensity of the problems with Article 112 in Thailand. By doing so, it locates the problems with Article 112 under the global spotlight. The mission is also to seek contributions from these sponsors/champions in promoting a change in the lèse-majesté situation in Thailand. While the Western nations have expressed their concerns over the overuse of Article 112, as reflected in the statement of the US National Security Council Advisor Jake Sullivan (in February 2021), little has been done to improve the situation. Meanwhile, successive Thai governments have successfully explained away the need to maintain Article 112 based on the supposedly unique role of the monarchy in the Thai political life.
 
Some of the prospective sponsors and champions for 112Watch may include –
 
1. United Nations human rights monitoring mechanism and bodies which have repeatedly expressed concerns over Article 112, including:
 
  • The Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of freedom of opinion and expression
  • The Special Rapporteur on rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association
  • Members of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
  • The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders
  • Members of the UN Human Rights Committee
  • The UN Human Rights Council generally
  • Staff at the UN Human Rights secretariat (OHCHR)
2. Recommending states during Thailand’s Second Universal Periodic Review, including a number of ambassadors to countries’ permanent missions in Geneva, which have advocated with Thailand on the amendment or abolition of Section 112.
3. The European Union’s Delegation for Relations with the Countries of Southeast Asia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), including the 51 Members of the European Parliament that constitute its members or substitute members.
4. Keen civil society organisations, non-governmental organisations, educational institutes and international media at the global level.
 
In coordinating actively with sponsors/champions, we strive to build networks, promote regular meetings with them, organize workshops, and jointly participate in sessions on human rights within the framework of the United Nations and the European Union. At this moment, 112Watch is working closely with Paris-based Destination Justice and we are working with Thai civil society and groups advocating on the amendment/abolition of Article 112, including iLaw and Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR).
 
In striving for networking and coalition and consensus building on the issue of Article 112 at the level of the international organisations, this project aims at accomplishing one quintessential outcome: Agreement among sponsors/champions to work, when possible, toward more forceful advocacy on, firstly, the issue of Article 112 at such international level through their existing networks, and secondly, other issues affected by the use of Article 112, such as freedom of expression, safety of human rights defenders, and so on. The aim is to work with agencies within the framework of the United Nations and the European Union to acknowledge the severity of Article 112 on human rights and to reconsider and to adopt a plan/strategy toward resolving it.
 
The project has begun a year ago, and this is what we have achieved. 
 
  • Networking with our sponsors/champions
  • Participating in International forum on human rights, particular at the events in Geneva.
  • Organising webinars with potential sponsors/champions
 
Principally, the task has to facilitate learning (in regard to Article 112) and to gain support from sponsors/champions. Ultimately, we strive for the Thai government to proceed with the reform of the Article 112.
 

Volunteers Needed for 112WATCH Project to help 112Watch and its partners accomplish critical research and advocacy. Please visit: www.112WATCH.org.

 

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