Anti-charter activists freed despite Thai police plea

Activists had been apprehended June 23 for distributing leaflets urging public to reject junta-backed constitution

Anti-charter activists freed despite Thai police plea

World Bulletin / News Desk

Six student activists apprehended for distributing leaflets urging Thais to vote against a junta-backed constitution were released from prison Wednesday morning, according to local media.

At 8.30 a.m. (0130GMT) six of the seven activists being held in Bangkok Remand Prison were released, reported the Bangkok Post.

The seventh remains in jail pending further legal action. Korakoch Saengyenphan was also detained in 2015 along with 35 other suspects on a train journey from Bangkok to Hua Hin to protest alleged graft at a military-run theme park honoring Thai kings.

Police had also sought to detain the six further, but the military court rejected the request, citing that investigators had already finished their probe into the arrests.

Prosecutors, however, are still planning on continuing the case.

The six were from a group of 13 New Democracy Movement members who were arrested protesting the Aug. 7 draft referendum on June 23 in Samut Prakan, one of Thailand's central provinces.

Saengyenphan was also a member of the 13, and all were charged with violating the National Council for Peace and Order's ban on public assembly.

Six of the 13 activists were granted bail and released June 24, while the other seven had refused to request bail in a show of civil disobedience.

The Aug. 7 referendum will ask Thai voters if they approve or reject a draft constitution written by a military-appointed committee of legal experts following a May 2014 coup against the elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra.

The draft has been criticized by party leaders on both sides of the political spectrum, as well as by academics and media. The draft allows for a senate fully-appointed by the junta and for a non-elected “outsider” to become prime minister.

Junta opponents fear that such a system will allow a military officer or a civilian acting on behalf of the military to become premier.

The electoral commission, an official agency, has banned all criticisms of the draft charter, along with the wearing of T-shirts calling for voters to reject the draft at the referendum.

Since the junta came to power in 2014, protests have been suppressed and some participants forced to stand trial in a military court.

Incidents include the arrest of an activist's mother for uttering one word in response to a Facebook message May 6, and the arrest of six members of a group June 24 en-route to a protest at Bangkok's Democracy Monument.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 06 Temmuz 2016, 13:45