HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
The road towards democracy for Thailand remains bumpy and undemocratic changes are unacceptable, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra says.
"Thailand has also gone through challenges to defend our democracy over the decades. The journey has not been smooth and, even today, I still have to defend democracy from undemocratic minds," the premier said in her speech at the 24th United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva yesterday.
"We cannot and should not accept any undemocratic changes. And we must continue to support democratic values by protecting people's rights and liberties. At the same time, she said democracy is not just about winning elections by a majority of votes, but it is about exercising power in a way that respects minorities.
"This means that those in power must not cling onto power and impose one's will on others," the prime minister said.
Before the speech, Ms Yingluck met United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay at the UNHRC headquarters.
The premier thanked the UNHRC for paying attention to the reconciliation process in Thailand.
She said her government had been working closely with all stakeholders and was ready to listen to different opinions to achieve unity.
Regarding the lese majeste law, Ms Yingluck told Ms Pillay lese majeste convicts in Thailand received proper treatment like other criminal offenders.
"Thay have the right to a fair trial and to receive legal assistance," she said.
She said she was aware of the UNHRC's concerns about the amnesty bill, now being scrutinised in parliament. Ms Yingluck said the bill did not aim to absolve everyone involved in the political conflict while those criminal law and human rights violators would face legal action.
The premier asked the UNHRC to communicate directly with the government regarding the amnesty issue because the matter was "sensitive and could be easily distorted by some people for political gain".
Ms Yingluck said the government will continue to take care of refugees from neighbouring countries such as Rohingya boat people by providing good shelters, especially for women and children.