Anti-junta activists urge court of justice to defy military rules

Pro-democracy activists charged with defying the Thai junta’s orders have submitted a statement to the court of justice, urging the judicial authorities not to let military courts try civilians.  

Four activists from Resistant Citizen, a pro-democracy activist group, on Thursday afternoon submitted a statement to Bangkok’s Ratchadaphisek Criminal Court to call for the court of justice to resist the junta’s orders in letting military courts try civilian defendants.

The statement was addressed to the chief judge of the Supreme Court. It was received by officers of the court.

The four activists 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 who volunteers for Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), and Wannakiet Chusuwan, a pro-democracy activist and taxi driver.

(From left to right) Pansak Srithep, Sirawit Serithiwat, Anon Numpa, and Wannakiet Chusuwan in front of Bangkok’s Ratchadaphisek Criminal Court on 12 March 2015 (Photo from: Resistant Citizen)    

On 25 May 2014, the junta’s National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) issued Announcement No. 37/2014, which states that cases related to national security, lèse majesté, and disobedience toward the junta’s orders would be tried by military courts.

The statement pointed out that the military courts cannot guarantee to suspects the right to a fair trial and that civilians should not be tried by military tribunals. This is mainly because of the substandard judicial procedures of the military court, which do not guarantee suspects’ right to appeal a verdict. Therefore the separation of military courts, which are presided over by judges from the military, from civilian courts is longer in use in most countries, according to the statement.

By entitling the military tribunal to have authority over civilians, the military junta is using the military courts as an apparatus to get rid of civilians who oppose the coup, the statement concluded.

The activists submit their statement to Criminal Court personnel on 12 March 2015 (Photo from: Resistant Citizen)     

The group also issued the following demands:

  • The court of justice should stand firm in its authority under the Constitution and the Criminal Procedure Code, and its judicial authority to uphold the pillar of justice and not allow civilian cases to be tried under the substandard jurisdiction of military courts.
  • The court of justice should show its courage by resisting the barbaric orders of the junta and stand firm in its legal principles that the coup-makers were rebels and that the orders and announcements of the coup-makers should have no legal effect in order to fight with the people to return justice and democracy.

Resistant Citizen will hold a march called “I walk Therefore I Am” from Bang Bua Thong, northwest of Bangkok, to Pathumwan Police station in central Bangkok from 14-16 March to raise awareness about the group’s demands.  

Earlier on 14 February, the four were charged with violating NCPO Order No. 7/2014 which prohibits public political gatherings of more than five people by holding a political event in central Bangkok called “The election that was loved (stolen)” which called for elections and commemorated the latest election on 2 February 2014. The activity was organized by the Resistant Citizen group. 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.

Video by Resistant Citizen promoting the march this weekend