Military sends police officers to interrogate lecturer over anti-junta banner

The military sent police officers to interrogate a university lecturer suspected of hanging an anti-junta banner.

Two police officers came to Mahasarakham University in the northeastern province of Maha Sarakham at around 5 pm on Thursday to interrogate Vinai Poncharoen, a lecturer at the Political Science Faculty of the university, at his office after he posted a picture of an anti-junta banner with the message “Down with dictatorship, democracy will triumph” on his Facebook page on Wednesday.

The anti-junta banner was first seen hanging in front of the Mahasarakham University gate on Wednesday morning.

The anti-junta banner reading “Down with dictatorship, democracy will triumph”, hangs in front of Mahasarakham University on Wednesday morning 

During the interrogation, Vinai told the police that he was not involved in putting up the banner, but he agreed with its statement and did not know who took part in hanging it.

The police took pictures of Vinai and told him that they might have to come again to collect his fingerprints. They added that they were sent by the military.  

Vinai added that there were many police and military officers at the university on Wednesday who might merely have come to maintain security at an event co-organized by the Constitutional Court and the Political Science Faculty of the university. However, he added that he was informed by his friends that some officers asked about his whereabouts.

Vinai mentioned that according to the police there are several other suspects in the anti-junta banner case, one of whom belongs to the Thai Student Centre for Democracy (TSCD), an anti-junta student group. However, he told the police that TSCD students are not likely to be involved because they are in Bangkok.  

Vinai said that he has been summoned by the authorities twice since the 2014 coup because he is one of the 118 people who signed the statement of the Campaign Committee for the Amendment of Article 112 and usually posted messages on social media against the lèse majesté law. This might be the reason why the authorities suspected him of hanging the banner.