Posts Tagged ‘junta’

Thai authorities should immediately drop all charges and unconditionally release 14 pro-democracy activists who peacefully expressed opposition to military rule, Human Rights Watch said today. The 14 are charged with sedition, which carries a maximum seven-year prison term, and violating the military junta’s ban on political gatherings of more than five people.

“The arrest of peaceful democracy activists calling for free and fair elections shows that Thailand’s military junta has no intention of easing its oppressive rule,” said Brad Adams, Asia director. “Gagging peaceful public protests makes a mockery of Prime Minister Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha’s self-proclaimed commitment to return Thailand to democracy.”

On May 22, 2018, a peaceful rally was held in front of the United Nations compound in Bangkok to mark the fourth anniversary of the 2014 military coup. Police broke up the rally and arrested leaders and members of the “We Want Election” movement after they read a statement calling for the ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to lift all restrictions on fundamental freedoms and hold promised elections.

The 14 pro-democracy activists being held at Phayathai Police Station and Chanasongkram Police Station in Bangkok are: Nuttaa Mahattana, Chonthicha Jangrew, Anon Numpa, Rangsiman Rome, Sirawith Seritiwat, Piyarat Chongthep, Ekachai Hongkangwan, Chokchai Paiboonratchata, Kiri Khanthong, Putthaising Pimchan, Roj Trong-ngarmrak, Viset Sangkhavisit, Pattarapol Jankot, and Prasong Wangwan.

Continue reading: Human Rights Watch

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Eight Pheu Thai Party executives reported to police Monday to hear charges of sedition, violation of the ban on political gatherings of more than four people and the Computer Crimes Act.

The charges were made after the eight party executives held a press conference criticizing the junta’s failures after four years in power. They include former education minister Chaturon Chaisang, former deputy premier Kittiratt Na Ranong and former commerce minister Watana Muangsook.

Phumtham Wechayachai, one of the eight, said he doesn’t believe the charges will lead to the party’s dissolution.

Some 200 supporters showed up at Crime Suppression Division in Bangkok.

Source: Khaosod English

A deputy police commissioner on Saturday said a planned march by pro-democracy activists on the Government House risks violating the law.

Gen. Srivara Ransibrahmanakul said protesters are free to stage a rally or camp overnight Monday at Thammasat University, but they may be charged with traffic law violations and other crimes if they take to the streets.

“They have a right to assembly, but they have to stay within the relevant laws,” Srivara told reporters.

Activists opposed to further junta rule have called for a demonstration at the regime’s seat of power on Tuesday – the fourth anniversary of the coup that brought about the present military government.

They also plan to camp out inside Thammasat University’s Tha Prachan campus on the eve of their march. Srivara said police will be deployed to keep peace around the campus.

In a letter filed to police notifying them of the march, the activists said they expect up to 2,000 demonstrators.

Source: Khaosod English

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.

Continue reading: Khaosod English

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