[Update] 4 Thai anti-coup activists arrested, charged for holding peaceful gathering

The police on Saturday arrested four activists for organizing a peaceful anti-coup activity and charged them with violating the junta’s orders.
 
The four are Sirawit Serithiwat, a student activist  from Thammasat University, Pansak Srithep, a red-shirt activist and the father of a boy killed by the military during the 2010 political violence, Anon Numpa, a human rights lawyer from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), and Wannakiet Chusuwan, a pro-democracy activist. 
 
Police at Pathumwan Police Station charged them with violating NCPO Order No. 7/2014 which prohibits a political public gathering of more than five people. People who violate this order face a jail term of up to one year and a fine of up to 20,000 baht or both. 
 
The case will be tried in a military court. 
 
At 2.50 of Sunday, the four anti-coup protesters were released on bail. Anon used his lawyer license as security. Pansak and Wannakiet put up 20,000 baht bail each. The three accepted the bail after hours of negotiation with police that their temporarily release must not be conditional on them stopping political activity and that the bails set earlier was too expensive. 
 
However, Sirawit had to put 40,000 baht bail because the police charged him on two counts of defying the coup makers. The other charge is from his past anti-coup activity. Sirawit was released on condition that he will 1 not leave the country, 2 stop political activity 3 stay at the residence that he indeicated to the authorities. 
 
The four will have to report themselves to the police at Pathumwan Police Station on 16 March. The cases are being handled by the TLHR lawyers. 
 
The police at 10.20pm on Saturday, set the bail for Sirawit at 150,000 baht, while the bails for three others were set at 750,000. 
 
(From left) Pansak Srithep, Sirawit Serithiwat, Anon Numpa, and Wannakiet Chusuwan speak to media after they are released on bails at early hours of Sunday (Photo courtesy of Thai Lawyers for Human Rights)
 
Since they were arrested after the anti-coup activity ended around 5.30 pm, about 20 anti-coup activists and student activists gathered in front of the police station. to give moral courage to the four. 
 
Prinya Thaewanarumitkul, Thammasat University’s Assistanct Rector, Prajak Kongkirati, a lecturer of Thammasat’s Faculty of Political Science and advisor of Sirawit, and Pongkwan Sawasdipakdi , also a lecturer of Thammasat’s Faculty of Political Science, went to the police station to help negotiate with police and give moral courage. 
 
At 4 pm on Valentine’s Day, a large crowd joined an event entitled “The election that was loved (stolen)” which called for an election and commemorated the latest election on 2 February 2014. The activity was organized by the Resistant Citizen group. 
 
Approximately 100 police officers maintained tight control at the event, held in front of the Bangkok Art and Cultural Centre (BACC), Siam Square. 
 
Natchacha Kongudom, an anti-coup student activist from Bangkok University told Prachatai “Nothing has changed since the coup, martial law is still imposed and of course the election is nowhere in sight. This implies that the military doesn’t have any idea how to govern without martial law.”
 
“We haven’t received any phone call from the military warning us not to organize the event this time, but I’m pretty sure that they are intercepting our mobile phones anyhow. There are often connection problems for me and other student activists, such as Sirawat. In fact, I have not paid my phone bill for three months, but it’s still working”
 
“Many people have shown up today which is a good sign. It proves that many are still calling for an election. However, it is still not enough. I want Thai students and the foreign and Thai media to do more in pressuring the junta, especially foreign governments who can use diplomatic channels to pressure the regime,” Natchacha said.
 
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The moment when the plain-cloth authorities try to arrest a protester.