This is my account as a person who reported himself following an order of the junta and was detained for 7 days. As a number of friends have not yet reported themselves, and many have been called to do so, I think that this account may factor into the decisions of many people.
The conditions under which I reported may be different from those of many others. Since I was arrested on the evening of 23 May, I was detained for one night before there was a list of summons for people to report themselves. When I reported myself to the Army Club on 24 May 2014, I went in the custody of military and police officials. (During this time, I kept returning to the question, if I was not already in custody, what path would I take? 1. Report myself; 2. Flee; or 3. Live life normally, and if they came to arrest, let them arrest me.)
Two lecturers had already reported themselves when I arrived to report myself at 4 pm on Saturday, 24 May. They were “Ajarn Toom,” or Sudsanguan Suthisorn, and Ajarn Surapot Thaweesak. As far I know, the politicians who were summoned to report themselves were not interrogated, or if they were, it was minimal. But the three of us were interrogated because we were marked by the matter of Article 112.
With regard to my case, the authorities possessed a considerable file on me. They brought it in to question me. Although some of the organisation and analysis of the information was confused, they appeared to have done a reasonable amount of homework. Another issue that the authorities were anxious about was the signing of one’s name to the petition to amend Article 112. Perhaps it was lucky that I did not sign my name.
The interrogation on the first day lasted approximately 1 hour. My conclusion then was that the authorities were uneasy, and they asked if whether or not after this I would continue. I promised that if anything I did made them uneasy, I would refrain from doing so. The interrogation ended at approximately after 9 pm on Saturday, 24 May. At first, I thought that I would be released. But then it turned out that we were the first group that had to be “confined” [“เก็บตัว”]. There were 7 people. Among the others, 3 were politicians and 1 other was a media person and a leader of the Peoples’ Alliance for Democracy (PAD).
Leaving the Army Club at 10 pm without knowing the destination or the purpose caused a fair amount of stress. But when we arrived at the camp, the commander, who was in charge of the area and who took very good care of us, said that he received the order at 1 pm on Saturday. This means that our interrogation had no effect. And it meant that there was no way that answering correctly or cooperating would lead to immediate release. The junta had already determined when each person would be released.
I was well-treated during the entire 7 day period of my detention. But at the same time, high-ranking officers in the division came by to unofficially chat (with us), and each one was duty bound to report to his commander.
What we have to realise is that what has taken place before us is without any basis in law or reason. General Paiboon Kumchaya, who spoke at the end and interviewed us individually on the day of release, said that, “the thing that we did was against the law, but it was at the right time.” The process of going to report oneself is a political method. This is a request for cooperation. If one provides it, then one can return. But if one does not cooperate with the soldiers, they say that they will use “harsh medicine” to take care of things.
But this account does not mean that everything will be completely smooth in every case. As for Ajarn Surapot and me, until the last minute before I was released they were checking whether or not I had an outstanding “warrant” against me.
It was lucky that neither of us had outstanding warrants against us, or that in the 7 days that we were held, no new warrants were issued. Otherwise, our destinies may have changed. I think that the policy for those who report themselves played a part in our treatment. But as for those who oppose the coup, or violate martial law, the situation may be different.
As for answering that question, a wise man advised that we should avoid the matters of the past and political views and talk about how to cooperate in the present and future.