Statement by the Swedish Ambassador to Thailand Regarding Thailand's Decision to Revoke Swedish citizen Pirjo Svensson’s Visa

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The appeal by a detained Swedish citizen Mrs. Pirjo Svensson has been denied by the Thai authorities on formal grounds. This information is surprising since none of the Thai representatives with whom the Embassy has been in contact over the past weeks, while Mrs. Svensson has been in detention, have informed her or us that the appeal was not submitted within the prescribed time limit. She will now have to leave the country.

Thailand's decision to revoke Mrs. Svensson's visa is regrettable. The Falun Gong Movement and its information materials are not prohibited in Thailand. According to our knowledge, Mrs. Svensson has never acted in such a way as to disturb peace in the Kingdom of Thailand nor against the Thai government. The opinion of the Thai authorities that Mrs. Svensson constitutes a risk to the country's security is therefore hard to comprehend.

The freedoms of opinion and expression are protected by the Thai Constitution. Thailand has also acceded to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It is regrettable if Thailand, which for many years has been a leading country in South East Asia with regard to human rights and democracy, now does not respect its obligations.

On the other hand, it is encouraging that several Thai voices have been raised in favor of Mrs. Svensson's case, such as the Thai National Human Rights Commission and several parliamentarians.

Pirjo Svensson was arrested in her home in Bangkok on 29th April. Immediately upon her detention, the Swedish Embassy in Bangkok demanded an explanation from the Thai Authorities. Sweden has also forwarded an official protest against the detention to the Government of Thailand, demanding Mrs. Svensson's immediate release, and that she should not be expelled but should retain the right to remain in Thailand for the duration of her present visa. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Stockholm has also summoned representatives of the Embassy of Thailand to deliver Sweden’s demands.

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