March 4 assembly activists report to Pattaya police, released after questioning

politics March 12, 2018 17:58

By The Nation

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Three activists reported themselves to the police in Pattaya on Monday after charges were pressed against them following their assembly on March 4, which called for the holding of the long-delayed general election.

Sirawith Seritiwat, Wanchalerm Khunsen and Jidapa Thanahatthachai denied the charges and were later released after questioning.

They are accused of breaking the junta ban against political gatherings of five or more people and the Public Assembly Act.

Their ultimate punishment could be up to six months’ imprisonment and/or fines of up to Bt10,000.

Pol Colonel Apichai Krobpetch, superintendent at Pattaya police station, said the three activists had broken the law because they did not notify the authorities before organising the assembly.

They participated in the 50-person assembly, in front of a Pattaya department store in Chon Buri province on March 4, as part of a months-long series of assemblies demanding the holding this year of a general election, which had recently been postponed to next February.

The Sirawith-led group, StartUp People, calls for the election to take place this year as previously promised by the government, an end to the junta rule of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), and also for the return of democracy.

“I don’t think I have done anything wrong. I just [exercised] my rights [to attend the assembly],” Wanchalerm said after his release.

“On the day of the assembly, I also called the superintendent to inform him. Still, some officers came to tell us to stop the event, and we did so accordingly,” he added.

Meanwhile, Panitan Wattanayagorn, security adviser to Deputy PM and Defence Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan, on Monday said that the NCPO had been evaluating whether activist movements had any “connection” with political parties or groups.

“The movements have been orderly, but we have to monitor those who might amplify the matter [and take advantage],” he said, adding, “If there is anything unusual or unstable, security officers will have to take action.”

Panitan also stressed that the NCPO would still need to maintain order and security during the pre-election period. 

“If you want the NCPO to dissolve, you have to think who would accomplish these missions,” he said.