THE TWO young sons of a woman arrested for distributing T-shirts the authorities deemed “politically offensive” were allowed to see her yesterday for the first time since she was placed in detention at a military camp four days ago.
The boys, ages 14 and nine, were able to visit their mum Wannapa – whose surname the Army is withholding – at the 11th Military Circle in the company of Angkhana Neelaphaijit of the National Human Rights Commission.
Military officers arrested Wannapa, 30, a motorcycle-taxi rider, in her rented room in Samut Prakan early last Thursday morning.
She had in her possession a black T-shirt bearing a small red-and-white emblem on the upper left front, a “flag” alleged to be the symbol of a group calling itself the “Federation of Thai States”.
The woman has been detained ever since at the same military base where critics of the junta were routinely taken for “attitude adjustment” in the weeks and months following the 2014 coup. She has not been formally charged with any offence.
The Thai Lawyers for Human Rights Centre quoted Wannapa’s boyfriend as saying she had never attended any political gatherings or participated in any political activity.
The two sons were allowed to visit her for about an hour yesterday, with military officers present the whole time.
Angkhana said the boys’ guardian asked her to accompany them to meet their mother. She was told the boys were under stress because of their mother’s enforced absence.
“I would like to thank the concerned authorities for facilitating this visit,” Angkhana said.
She said the boys were more relaxed and hopeful afterwards.
Wannapa was being held in a room with a toilet and was under the watch of two female military officers, she said, adding that Wannapa told her sons she was fine and they mustn’t worry.
A military officer said a 2015 junta order gave military officers the power to detain suspects for questioning for up to seven days. Wannapa would be turned over to police for further legal action tomorrow or on Wednesday, he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The Thai Lawyers for Human Rights Centre said another woman, identified only as Surangkanang, was also arrested for allegedly distributing the offending T-shirts, but she was released after 13 hours.