Thai police shut down panel on Rohingya

Thai police have shut down a panel to discuss justice for alleged human rights abuses in Myanmar.
Thai police have shut down a panel to discuss justice for alleged human rights abuses in Myanmar.

Police in Thailand have shut down a forum organised by foreign journalists to discuss whether senior military officers in Myanmar should face justice for alleged human rights abuses committed by their forces.

About a dozen policemen have shown up ahead of the scheduled panel discussion at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand on Monday and ordered the panellists not to speak.

The scheduled speakers included Tun Khin, a prominent UK-based Rohingya activist; Kobsak Chutikul, a former Thai diplomat; and Kingsley Abbott, a representative of the International Commission of Jurists, a rights advocacy group.

Last month, a specially-appointed UN human rights team recommended that Myanmar military leaders should be prosecuted for genocide against the Rohingya. Critics of Burma's military have also accused it of carrying out ethnic cleansing and other war crimes.

Some 700,000 Rohingya fled across the border to Bangladesh after the army launched a counter-insurgency campaign in response to attacks by Rohingya militants last August.

The army, which for decades has been accused of violating the human rights of various ethnic minorities, denies having committed organised rights abuses.

Police at the Bangkok event handed over a letter requesting that the panel discussion on "Will Myanmar's Generals Ever Face Justice for International Crimes?" should be cancelled because it could damage national security, affect foreign relations and a give a third party the opportunity to create unrest.

However, policeman Thawatkiat Jindakuansanong told organisers: "We are not asking. We are ordering you to cancel the event."

It is believed to be the sixth time police have forced a cancellation of one of the group's programs since Thailand's military seized power from an elected government in 2014. Politically sensitive events in other venues have also been stopped.

Australian Associated Press