UN concern over pre-polls violence

The United Nations Human Rights Office for South East Asia (OHCHR) on Tuesday expressed concern about the confrontation between anti- and pro-election groups on the eve of election day near Laksi district office, in which the use of firearms left eight people wounded, some seriously.

The OHCHR said it was alarmed to see individuals at protest sites with weapons, including firearms. Explosives and guns had been used against the protest groups by unknown people.

“The OHCHR is highly concerned that this situation could lead to further outbreaks of serious violence and armed confrontations. OHCHR calls on all sides to refrain from carrying weapons or resorting to violence,” it said in a statement.

The office also stressed that it was the government’s responsibility to investigate and hold to account those responsible for Saturday’s violence. OHCHR also called on all sides to fully cooperate with such investigations.

The office said it had monitored the political situation in Thailand since Jan 13, the date the “Bangkok shutdown” operation began.

While stressing the significance of the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly as essential cornerstones for democracy, the OHCHR reminded all parties that an exercise of such rights also carries responsibilities to respect other people's human rights.

“People should be free both to peacefully express their opinions and to exercise their right to vote,” the statement said.

OHCHR representatives visited Chatuchak, Ding Daeng, Don Muang, Laksi, Lat Phrao, Phaya Thai, Ratchathewi, Saimai and other locations in Bangkok on Feb 1 and 2, the statement said.

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