FOUR DEFIANT activists are determined to show up at a pro-election assembly this afternoon despite already being sought on charges that could ultimately land them in jail for up to seven years.
Activists Rangsiman Rome, Sirawit Serithiwat, Ekachai Hongkangwan and lawyer Anon Nampa told The Nation that they would be attending the event to be held near Democracy Monument at 4pm.
Warrants for their arrest were approved by Bangkok South Criminal Court yesterday after they did not report to police on Wednesday despite two summonses.
The summonses were issued as they have been accused of committing sedition, breaking the junta’s ban against political gatherings, as well as the public assembly bill for organising an assembly on January 27 that called on the junta to hold the delayed election.
A total of 39 activists, students, and observing journalists were charged following the incident. But only nine, considered as the event’s key figures, were charged with sedition and could face a maximum punishment seven years imprisonment.
The other 30 accused people are currently free. Two of them have pleaded guilty and are due to be sentenced next month.
On Thursday, the police also asked the court for a six-day postponement of detention requests for 28 people who turned themselves in at Pathumwan Police Station. The five accused of sedition also reported themselves to police on Thursday. However, the Bangkok South Criminal Court freed them due to insufficient evidence.
The four wanted activists, via their lawyers, had submitted letters to police requesting a postponement of their scheduled reporting. This was denied.
Yesterday, the police said they would immediately arrest the four when they showed up at today’s event.
“As the police have authority to detain [the wanted] for up to 48 hours, we may have to detain the activists, if arrested, over the weekend,” Pol Lt-General Charnthep Sesawet, Commissioner of Metropolitan Police Bureau, told The Nation. “We will be able to [continue] legal procedures with the court again on Monday.”
Charnthep said police have also prepared forces and measures to cope with today’s assembly. “They sent us the letter on the assembly and we informed them that it must not be political, otherwise we will have to follow our measures,” he said.
The four activists affirmed their participation despite the outcome.
“Why not go?” said Ekachai. “The court’s rejection to detain [activists from the] January 27 assembly has already proved that this kind of assembly is rightful by law.”
Rangsiman admitted that he would choose to not live with conflict “but with a corrupt system and our tax money continuing to be wasted, how could we keep living normally, pretending that everything is alright?”
He added: “We would like the event to be peaceful as much as possible. All we want is to call for the election to be held by late this year as earlier promised by PM General Prayut Chan-o-cha.”