June 07, 2014 00:00
By Pravit Rojanaphruk
Prominent anti-coup activist Sombat Boonngam-anong, who was nabbed by police and soldiers in Chon Buri on Thursday night, has always been a colourful and creative figure.
When the two-month red-shirt rally was dispersed back in May 2010, after some 99 deaths on all sides, Sombat led a group of protesters to stage a “nude” protest against the emergency decree. He was arrested and detained. The decree prohibited five or more people from taking part in a political gathering.
After the May 22 coup, Sombat was summoned to report to the military two weeks ago but refused to do so. Instead, he mocked the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), saying that the people who had committed crimes – tearing up the Constitution – were members of the junta.
He challenged the military on Twitter and Facebook to catch him if they could.
Sombat, who is leader of the Red Sunday Group, then inspired and even directed anti-coup gatherings at McDonald’s outlets nationwide and various other spots via Twitter and Facebook messages while he was in hiding. This led to the junta sealing off some department stores and BTS Skytrain stations in Bangkok to prevent the protesters from gathering last Sunday.
The picture of his arrest at a house in Chon Buri showed him looking rather nervous. Hours after his arrest, a pre-recorded audio message from him was released on the Internet, calling others to carry on with the “historic” fight for democracy in a peaceful manner.
“Let us believe that sovereignty rests with the people,” Sombat said in his brief prepared message, in case he was captured or “disappeared”.