Update: At around 6.30 pm, the military released the five activists but demanded them to come back with their parents and will officially charged them on Thursday. During the interogation, the military pressured the students to sign a document, stating that they will not hold any anti-coup activity nor expressing disaproval on the coup again. However, all of the students insisted they will not sign the document.
Five student activists from Khon Kaen University were arrested on Wednesday morning after they flashed the three-fingered salute, a dissent gesture adopted from the Hunger Games, as junta leader Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha visited Khon Kaen Province.
While Gen Prayut was giving a speech to the Disaster Prevention Mitigation Department at Khon Kaen Provincial Hall, the activists came and flashed the three-finger salute and shouted “We’re against the coup.”
The five are from the Dao Din student activist group of Khon Kaen University.
- Jatupat Boonpattararaksa
- Wason Sedsit
- Jedsarit NamKod
- Payu Boonsopon
- Wichakorn Anuchon
According to Wassana Nanuam, the Bangkok Post's military reporter, the activists wore t -shirts saying in Thai ‘mai ao ratpraharn’, meaning ‘No Coup’ under their jackets. They later took off their jackets revealing the message, flashed the salute and announced "We're against the coup."
In early June, five members of the group, including Jatupat, were summoned and detained
at the military camp in Khon Kaen to force them to stop mobilising anti-mine activities in Ban Na Nong Bong village, Wang Sapung District, Loei Province.
A group member, asked not to be named due to security concern, told Prachatai that they decided to risk martial law because they wanted to denounce the legitimacy of the junta after Tuesday’s remark by Gen Prawit Wongsuwan, Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister. The group said they wanted to show that at least they themselves do not welcome them.
Gen Prawit on Tuesday told the media that Prime Minister Prayut can travel anywhere and to any region because the prime minister does not have a conflict with anyone nor any enemy.
The group member added that at 8 am this morning a pick-up truck with no registration plates and thick black film over its windows drove around the house of a Dao Din member. She believed it was a way of security officials to threaten them.
At 11.20 am, the authorities took them from Khon Kaen Police Station to Khon Kaen's Sri Patcharin military camp. Their mobile phones have been confiscated.
The group also issued a statement regarding their action and arrest as below:
Declaration of Dao Din (Nov. 19, 2014)
After the coup by the NCPO, led by Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha, who is now acting as a prime minister who did not come from an election, the work of the government has included many mistakes and the problem is now becoming more violent. The people have been deprived of rights and freedoms under a full dictatorship regime. Many people are beginning to sense the increasing threats. There have been many incidents of arrests and detention due to exercising the right to freedom of expression that people have from birth in order to threaten those who do not agree with the military government (NCPO) and who they fear will stand up and protest.
Most of the policies are beneficial to business, while ignoring the rights and freedoms of the people. Most of the policies choose to ignore the voices of the people, such as those on water management, as in the case of the Mae Wong dam that has been brought back as a policy even though most people do not agree with it. The denial of people’s participation on the issue of energy and the master plan for forest and land management has led to a situation where people have been indiscriminately and unjustly evicted from their houses and rubber plantations. These incidents show that this dictatorial government does not respect the rights and the freedoms of the people at all.
Out of frustration with the system of military dictatorship, we, the Human Rights Law Centre for Society (Dao Din) declare our standpoint to fight and demand until we receive the people’s rights, freedom and democracy. We want to choose and determine our own lives. We declare that we will not take any order or policy that comes from the dictatorship government and ask Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha to lift martial law which is causing problems for people throughout the country in not being able to express their opinions, which is a violation of fundamental human rights that people should have. We also ask the government to dismiss the policies and projects that are destroying the local environment in many areas such as the master plan for forest and land management, energy reform that does not involve the voice of the people and many other projects within these policies, and to return power to the people so we can again enjoy our rights and freedoms.
The moment when the student activists were detained while flashing the three-finger salute. Photo by @NOW26_ktnews
Dao Din student activists at the Khon Kaen Police Station
As the group was leaving the police station for the military camp, they flashed the salute again.
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