BANGKOK — The European Union’s move to cut ties with Thailand in protest of last month’s coup has prompted the Thai military to release all detainees who were held in "special circumstances," says the junta’s spokesperson.
"The NCPO would like to confirm that we have now released all detainees who had been held in special circumstances," said Col. Winthai Suwaree, spokesperson of the ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).
"We will send information about their release, the situation of human rights, and our efforts to return Thailand to democracy to inform and create understanding with foreign countries, especially the EU members," Col. Winthai added.
It is still unclear what "special circumstances" means, but it could refer to detainees that are held in undisclosed locations for more than seven days, which is the maximum amount of time permitted under martial law. Yesterday, Redshirt activist Kritsuda Khunasen was released after spending nearly three weeks in military custody.
Col. Winthai's comments came several days after the EU suspended official visits to and from Thailand and placed a hold on signing a cooperation agreement in an effort to pressure the Thai military junta to restore an electoral democracy.
The military leadership's plan for the country “falls short of the credible roadmap for a return to constitutional rule which the situation requires,” the EU statement said. “Fully functioning democratic institutions must be brought back to ensure the protection and welfare of all citizens."
The EU added that it "will consider further possible measures, depending on circumstances."
The governments of the United States and Australia have also scaled back relations with Thailand in opposition to the 22 May coup d'etat.
In response to condemnation from these western allies, the Thai junta has argued that the coup was necessary to restore stability and that foreign observers do not understand the situation in Thailand correctly.
"We try to explain that a democratic regime has many details and complications," Col. Winthai said today. "Elections are just a part of democracy. We have to ensure that expression under democracy does not lead to bloodshed."
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