UN High Commissioner for Human Rights [official website] Navi Pillay [official profile] on Monday urged both the Thai government and anti-government protesters to seek a peaceful resolution [press release] to the current conflict [JURIST news archive]. Expressing deep concern at the escalating violence that has left dozens dead and many more injured, Pillay called on both sides to avoid further clashes and seek a diplomatic solution. Pillay called on the government to use force only in accordance with international human rights standards, warning that the situation could easily get out of hand:
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. I urge leaders to set aside pride and politics for the sake of the people of Thailand.Pillay also noted that Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva [official website; BBC profile] has agreed to set up an independent fact-finding mission to inquire into the recent violence, stressing that the investigation should be impartial and thorough.
Last week, a Thai court sentenced 27 protesters [JURIST report] to six months in prison. The accused are members of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship [party website, in Thai], also known as red shirts [BBC backgrounder], who support ousted [JURIST report] prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra [BBC profile; JURIST news archive]. Last month, Thailand's pro-government People's Alliance for Democracy Network [party website, in Thai; BBC backgrounder], known as yellow shirts, called for a declaration of martial law [JURIST report] to quell the anti-government movement spearheaded by the red shirts. Earlier in April, Vejjajiva announced that he was prepared to negotiate [JURIST report] with red shirt protesters once they cease their illegal conduct. Because of the mounting violence, Abhisit has imposed a state of emergency [JURIST report] in Bangkok and neighboring provinces.