Police press charges against seminar observers for first time

August 31, 2016

Police officers in Thailand’s northeast have achieved a new standard of intimidation after pressing charges against two rights advocates for merely observing a seminar criticizing the junta-backed draft charter.? ? On Wednesday, 31 July 2016, police officers in the northeastern province of Khon Kaen summoned six people to the Muang District police station for an accusation hearing. The authorities accused the six of breaching NCPO Order No. 3/2015, the junta’s ban on public gatherings, as they allegedly hosted a seminar titled ‘Talks for Freedom’ criticizing the junta-sponsored draft charter on 31 July at Khon Kaen University.? ? The six people comprised Jatuphat Boonpattaraksa, the hunger-striked student activist from the pro-democracy Dao Din group; Chatmongkhon Chanchiawchan and Narongrit Uppachan, student activists from Khon Kaen University; Duangthip Khanrit and Niranut Niamsap, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) staff; and Natthaphon Athan a local activist from the New Isaan Movement.? ? This is the first time that authorities have ever pressed charges against mere observers of an anti-junta seminar. Duangthip and Niranut were at the 31 July seminar just to observe and record human rights violations.

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