Military detains activist in Chiang Mai, saying people allowed to express opinions only after Sept 2015

Thai military in Northern Chiang Mai Province arrested an activist on Thursday night after she took and shared a photo of her holding a sheet of paper reading “No Martial Law” and “No NCPO.” The military said free expression is allowed only when the second phase of the junta’s reform plan starts in September 2015.
 
The activist has been released with no charge although she declined to sign a military-drafted document stating that she would not engage in any political activity again. This is the second case where people arrested for showing opposition to the junta’s National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) were coerced and threatened into signing the document, but refused to sign and faced no official consequences, yet. (Read about the first case here)
 
Siriporn Chayphet and a friend hold a sheet of paper reading “No Martial Law” and “No NCPO”. The sign below reads “Peak of Chiang Dao Mountain, 2,225 metres above sea level.” The spot is for tourists to take photos as souvenirs of their visit. 
 
 
At around 7 pm on Thursday, the military stopped the car of Siriporn Chayphet, an activist with the Thai Volunteer Service Foundation, at a checkpoint in Chiang Dao District. The military searched the car, confiscated her national identity card and brought her to Chiang Dao Police Station. 
 
At the police station, she was asked by the authorities whether she was the person in the picture or not. Siriporn confirmed her identity and told the authorities that she has every right to express her ideas and she only shared the photo among friends.   
 
“Do you know which situation we are in?  Showing things like this is illegal,” Siriporn quoted the military officers as saying.
 
According to Siriporn, the military told her that she has the right to express her opinions, but only after the second phase [of the junta’s reform plan], which starts after September 2015. The authorities later asked her to sign an agreement not to publicly criticize the junta again and told her that she might be charged and detained for seven days if she did not sign the paper.
 
Siriporn, however, was adamant and refused to sign any paper and was released without charge after several hours in detention.
 
“I have good intentions and I did nothing wrong. I have the right to express my ideas and beliefs,” Siriporn told Prachatai. 
 
As the military pleaded to her to sign the document, they told her that they had spent two whole days looking for the people in the photos as there was an order to find them. All people on Chiang Dao Mountain were inspected and all cars driving down from the mountain were searched. 
 
Siriporn said a military officer took pictures of her car on Thursday morning but she was not aware that it would lead to her arrest. 
 
Siriporn has organized activities with the Dao Din group and is one of the activists who on Thursday signed the petition, ‘Down with martial law…power belongs to all the people’, against the junta and the imposition of martial law together with more than 100 others.