Freed anti-junta activists from the Dao Din group talk to Prachatai about their experience in jail and how they learned about the value of freedom.
Shortly after the one-year anniversary of the military coup on 22 May, 14 anti-junta activists were arrested for their peaceful gatherings. Since then, different groups in Thai society have shown their support for or opposition to the jailed activists’ civil disobedience.The 14 activists, mostly students, are members of the New Democracy Movement (NDM).
Sombat Boonngam-anong, aka Nuling or the Polka Dot Editor, is a playful pro-democracy activist. Adding to the four charges he's now facing, the junta recently banned him from selling a bagged rice, saying it is a political activity.
Although as many as two thirds of all countries worldwide have already abolished the death penalty, many countries in Asia still maintain it for serious criminal offenses. According to the UN’s International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the death penalty should only be permitted for serious cases involving loss of life. In Southeast Asia, however, most suspects sentenced to death have committed crimes related to drug trafficking.
The latest round of peace talks has just started in early June in Kuala Lumpur -- quietly. The talks were reportedly initiated and supported by Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, the junta leader, himself. Srisompob Jitpiromsri, a renowned academic and authority on the Deep South conflict discusses the prospect of the talks under the military regime.
The boat people from the border between Myanmar and Bangladesh has become a hot potato among the Southeast Asian countries. Prachatai talked with Vivian Tan, the spokesperson of the the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Regional Office in Bangkok, about the role of UNHCR in the issue.
In the final part of this series, Prachatai talks to Atiwich Patthamapornsirikul, aka Jimmy, a student activist from the Seri Kaset Group, a student activist group from Kasetsart University. In March, the Thai junta sent security officers to visit Atiwich’s family, urging them to restrict Atiwich’s political activities. However, Atiwich chooses to continue challenging the junta to call for a return to democracy.
With uncertainty about whether the Thai junta will hold a public referendum on the draft constitution or impose it without public consent, alternative media outlets and think tanks in Thailand came together to open an online forum titled ‘Prachamati’ (referendum) to let people speak their mind about the draft constitution which is currently being debated by the junta’s National Reform Council (NRC).
In the second of the series, Prachatai talks to Sirawit Serithiwat (Ja New), a student activist from Thammasat University. In early February 2015, Sirawit was one of the four activists charged with violating the junta’s Order 7/2014, which prohibits a political public gathering of more than five persons. If found guilty, Sirawit could face up to a year in jail and a 20,000 baht fine. He is also reportedly being constantly followed by security officers. Despite the legal harassment and intimidation by the Thai authorities, Sirawit chooses to continue his political activities for democracy.
In November 2014, a transgender student activist was arrested and briefly detained for flashing a three-fingered salute at the ‘Hunger Games 3’ movie premiere in central Bangkok as a symbolic protest against the junta. Since then, she has become one of the best-known figures in the political movement against the junta. Prachatai talked to her about why she chose to stand against the regime despite all the risks that this entailed.