Citing the ban on political activities, the junta has pressed charges against eight Pheu Thai politicians for attacking the junta administration.

On 18 May 2018, Col Burin Thongprapai and Maj Gen Wijarn Jodtang, acting on behalf of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), filed charges against eight Pheu Thai politicians after they attacked the NCPO administration at a press briefing on Thursday.

The eight include Watana Muangsook, Chaturon Chaisang, Noppadon Pattama, Chaikasem Nitisiri, Phumtham Wechayachai, Pol Maj Gen Viroj Pao-In and Kittiratt Na-Ranong. They were accused of violating the Computer Crimes Act, sedition law and the NCPO Orders Number 3/2015, the junta’s ban on public gatherings of five people or more.

According to Spokesman of the NCPO Maj-Gen Piyapong, the NCPO decided to file charges against them because the party hosted the event despite warnings from the authorities.

“On 17 May, police officers visited Phue Thai Party to talked to the party leaders, who were preparing for the press briefing. The NCPO has not allowed political activities, and the police officers had told them the consequences, but the leaders still insisted on continuing the press briefing. You can see that the police didn’t allow them to do, but the leaders resisted, so the NCPO has to follow the law,” Piyapong told the media.

To commemorate the fourth anniversary of the 2014 Coup, the Pheu Thai politicians held the press briefing and criticised the junta’s political performance during the past four years. Before they began, however, the police asked to observe the event and warned the politicians that the briefing might constitute a violation of the junta’s orders.

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Police officers attempted to take a leader of the pro-democracy movement into custody Friday afternoon in downtown Bangkok.

Sirawith “Ja New” Seritiwat and members of the Democracy Restoration Group were handing out pamphlets critical of junta leader Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha in advance of a protest planned for Tuesday’s fourth anniversary of the 2014 coup at BTS Asok when officers approached them, according to a livestream by the group.

Sirawith said officers told him the group could not hand out such pamphlets and threatened to take them to Lumpini police station for questioning. The group refused to comply.

“The officer then asked my friend to show his ID card, but he refused,” he said. “Another officer claimed police are authorized to ask for people’s ID cards and that he would take us to the police station If we refused.”

His friend finally showed the ID card to the officers.

The confrontation ended when Sirawith and the group proceeded to enter the station to board a train. Sirawith said plainclothes policemen continued to follow them until they boarded the train.

Continue reading: Khaosod English

Thailand’s military government has accused opposition members of flouting a ban on political activity, among other charges, after they criticized it for reneging on promises to restore democracy and protect basic rights, police said on Friday.

The military, which has ruled since a 2014 coup it said was needed to restore order after months of protests, promised a return to democratic rule within two years, but has repeatedly delayed general elections, most recently set for February 2019.

Police said the junta, formally known as the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), filed the charges late on Thursday after a news conference by the Puea Thai Party, founded by ousted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

“Yesterday the NCPO came to file charges against the Puea Thai Party,” Maitri Chimcherd, commander of the Crime Suppression Division, told Reuters.

Continue reading: Reuters

A junta legal rep said Thursday he will file a police complaint against the Pheu Thai Party for violating the Computer Crime Act and political assembly ban.

Col. Burin Thongprapai’s threat was made as the party held a news conference to highlight what it described as seven failures by the military regime four years on since the May 2014 coup d’etat.

Police warned party executives they risked violating the junta’s ban on political gatherings of more than four people. The party responded by cutting those at the conference table to two former ministers – Chaturon Chaisang and Watana Muangsook – and Choosak Sirinin, its chief legal officer.

Burin said the politicians not only violated the assembly ban but also the Computer Crime Act by showing the event on the party’s website.

The first of Pheu Thai’s seven complaints was that the junta failed to restore democracy as promised after the putsch. Secondly, it didn’t foster national reconciliation and instead ended up becoming a party to political conflicts. The third failure, Pheu Thai said, was the junta’s inability to eradicate graft while the fourth accused it of violating basic rights and liberties.

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The editor of the Bangkok Post newspaper has said he has been forced to step down after refusing to curtail critical coverage of the ruling military government.

Umesh Pandey, who has held the position since July 2016, said the board of directors had asked him to “tone down” the newspaper’s reporting and editorials on the actions of the military government, particularly over their suppression of freedom of speech and the delays over long-promised elections.

“When asked to tone down I did not budge and was blunt in letting those who make decisions know that I would rather lose my position than bow my head,” said Pandey in a written statement on Monday night. “The axe finally came down on me just 60 days before my two year contract ended.”

The Bangkok Post board is made up of some of the most powerful figures in Thai business and education, many with close ties to the government; one member, Wuttisak Lapcharoensap, was floated as education minister last year. Neither Pandey nor members of the Bangkok Post board responded to requests for comment.

Press freedom in Thailand has been notoriously restricted since the military junta took over in a bloodless coup in 2014, with numerous journalists arrested under laws which ban views the government considers to be “inconsistent with the truth” or under the strict lese majeste laws, which prevent any criticism of the King. Soldiers have been known to turn up at newspaper offices to ask about certain stories and in the 2016 Freedom House report, media in Thailand was certified as “not free”.

Continue reading: The Guardian

Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha denied his visit to Buriram province this week was a political move to woo voters and lure local politicians for the promised general elections where he is expected to make a bid to return as prime minister.

The thing is, Prayuth, who is also the junta leader, will keep up the denials as he tours Thailand trading pork for local political support.

That doesn’t stop people like myself from thinking of the junta, and the military in general, as a de facto political party.

Call it Junta Party if you will, we can learn a lot by perceiving the military and the junta as a kind of unofficial political party.

The Leader of such party is invariably the coup leader: Prayuth. Membership includes all military officers. Instead of members having to pay party membership fees, their salaries are paid by taxpayers and that’s an advantage. Some are civilians who support military rule and should be regarded as party members as well.

Continue reading: Khaosod English

Ten punk rock musicians were arrested Saturday for singing songs deemed insulting to the leaders of the ruling military junta.

Four members of The Blood Soaked Street Of Social Decay and six other punk rockers were taken into custody Saturday after singing songs berating Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha and Gen. Prawit Wongsuwan at Almost Four Years, You Motherfucker, a punk music event to commemorate four years of military rule. They also set an image of Prayuth aflame.

“Soldiers and police said it crossed the line. They thought it was defamation,” event organizer Yuttajak Dumsuwan said Monday. “But we have no law against defamation of leaders of state or against burning pictures. It’s not 112. It’s berating the prime minister and government that uses our taxes. Of course citizens can do that.”

Blood Soaked was the penultimate band to perform at the event held late Saturday night on Ratchadamnoen Avenue at a memorial for civilians killed protesting for democracy in 1973.

“Prayuth! Prayuth! Ai hia!” a member of Blood Soaked yelled before burning a poster bearing Prayuth’s face.

Continue reading: Khaosod English