US lawmakers urge Thai govt to drop restrictive provisions in NGO bill

Two U.S. lawmakers are urging Thailand to drop provisions of a draft bill restricting NGOs, saying it would harm civil society and negatively impact the delivery of humanitarian assistance to neighboring Myanmar. 

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha’s government is seeking to pass a controversial bill regulating not-for-profit organizations in Thailand, including prohibiting groups from engaging in all activities that he says could be detrimental to national security or social harmony. 

Local and international NGOs have opposed it, saying it threatens civil society work and hampers free speech.

In their letters to the Thai and U.S. governments, Sen. Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts and Sen. Jeffrey A. Merkley of Oregon said the draft, if enacted, “will represent one of the most restrictive NGO laws in Asia and will have an irreversible effect on civil society in Thailand.” 

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Nontarat Phaicharoen and Subel Rai Bhandari