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Red-shirt Sombat tells of his time in prison on Twitter

Red-shirt activist Sombat Boonngamanong, who was granted bail this week, went on Twitter to share his experience in detention and to explain the friendships that were sparked with fellow detainees from the rival yellow-shirt camp.

"I'd like to say that the yellow and red shirts detained are not criminals. They only have a different set of thoughts about what they think is correct," he wrote as @nuling.

"It's normal for people in prison to be different, especially in their political views. In Zone 1 [of the prison], I met a man referred to as 'the popcorn gunman'. To me he was just an ordinary man. I saw no clues of him being a professional gunman as viewed by many others in society," Sombat wrote.

Other than meeting several prominent red shirts like Jeng Dokjik, former Pheu Thai MP Prasit Chaisisa and Somyos Prueksakasemsuk, Sombat said he also made friends with several yellow shirts - one of whom later began taking naps in the area where the red shirts hung out.

Sombat, an activist working to solve problems related to children and teenagers, said he even had a chance to discuss drug-related problems with military officers while in detention.

He wrote that the National Council for Peace and Order's policy to fight drugs would possibly win them public support.

"National reconciliation can only take place if people in society share a goal.

"If one of these goals is fighting drugs, everybody is likely to agree," he wrote.

"The military knows how severe the problem of drugs is - a colonel once told me that all conscripts need to undergo a physical check-up first.

"When the war on drugs kicked off [more than a decade ago], the military did what it could to prevent the smuggling of illegal narcotics and even launched the Wiwat Polmuang rehabilitation project, as there were far too many [drug addicts] for hospitals to deal with.

"Drug suppression, rehabilitation, campaigning to change the attitude of the young as well as measures to build a strong civil society must be implemented simultaneously," he wrote, adding that if rehabilitated addicts returned to live in the same environment, they would become addicts again.

However, Sombat said his political views remained unchanged.

Meanwhile, a military court yesterday gave police the green light to detain Sombat for another 12 days - from tomorrow to July 17 - as investigation into his charges had not been completed.

However, Sombat - who was arrested early last month for leading an anti-coup campaign - has been temporarily released on a bail guarantee of Bt600,000 and under condition that he does not get involved in any political activities. He faces charges of inciting anti-coup sentiments, computer crime and ignoring NCPO summonses. Once released on Wednesday, Sombat was escorted to a court in Roi Et province in the Northeast to hear lese majeste charges. He was released on bail.


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