Voicing extreme concern at the escalation of deadly violence in Thailand, the top United Nations human rights official today called on anti-Government protestors and the security forces to pull back from the brink and search for a peaceful resolution to the current stand-off.
“I urge leaders to set aside pride and politics for the sake of the people of Thailand,” High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said of the violence that is reported to have killed dozens of people.
“As the latest Government deadline passes, there is a high risk that the situation could spiral out of control. To prevent further loss of life, I appeal to the protestors to step back from the brink, and the security forces to exercise maximum restraint in line with the instructions given by the Government. Ultimately, this situation can only be resolved by negotiation.”
Echoing Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s call on Friday to all sides to resume talks and avoid further loss of life, Ms. Pillay said she recognized Government efforts over the past couple of months to resolve the situation, including the establishment of a ‘road map’ for national reconciliation.
She stressed that any use of force by security forces should be in accordance with universal human rights standards and welcomed Government assurances that it has set three firm principles governing the use of live ammunition – that it should first be fired in the air as a warning, and used as a last resort for self-defence or to save lives.
“Law enforcement officials have a vital role in protecting the right to life, as guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other treaties,” Ms. Pillay said. “While recognizing their clear responsibility to restore order, lethal use of force and firearms may only be made when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life.”
Noting Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's commitment to set up an independent fact-finding inquiry into the recent violence, she stressed the importance of an impartial and thorough investigation of events, as well of the underlying causes of the unrest, as part of a peaceful resolution to the conflict. She said all parties should be made aware that they will be held accountable for their actions.