Military interrupts private meeting of lawyer, clients in Isan

Military and police officers on Tuesday interrupted a private meeting between a lawyer and her clients in northeastern Udon Thani Province, while they were discussing a case related to the environmental impact of a dam. The military also told the lawyer to ask for permission for every meeting with her clients. 
 
Four military and three police officers interrupted the meeting at a hotel in central Udon Thani Province and forced the lawyer to write and sign a letter asking for permission to hold the meeting. After signing the document, the military allowed the meeting to continue, but did not leave the venue and observed the talk, according to Sor Rattanamanee Polkaw, the lawyer from the Community Resources Centre (CRC). The officers also collected documents related to the cases. 
 
“Why do lawyers need to ask for permission to meet with clients?” asked Sor Rattanamanee. She also pointed out that if the cases involved military officers as defendants, such as cases in the restive Deep South, the military should not interrupt or be present during such meetings.   
 
The meeting was to discuss the case against the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT), in which 20 villagers affected by the construction of the Xayaburi hydroelectric dam on the Lower Mekong River in northern Laos are co-plaintiffs. EGAT has committed to purchase electricity from the dam.
 
Sor Rattanamanee, who works on various community and environmental rights cases, was told by the military to ask for permission in advance every time she plans to hold a meeting with clients.  
 
 
 

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