Isan activist groups summoned for collaborating with anti-junta students

The Thai military summoned four leaders of an activist group in Isan, Thailand’s northeast, for joining the blessing ceremony for an anti-junta student activist who staged an activity to commemorate the 2014 coup d’état last month.  

At 10.30 am on Friday, military officers in the northeastern province of Kalasin summoned four activists from the local Ban Na Mun-Dun Sat Environmental Protection Group for a talk. 

The talk was held at the Damrong Dhamma Centre in Kalasin City Hall, a state-run office for accepting complaints and petitions, where 10 police, military, and local administration officers held a dialogue with the group.

Activists from Ban Na Mun-Dun Sat Environmental Protection Group of Kalasin Province met with military officers and other state officials on 12 June 2015  

At the talk, the officers warned the group not to associate with Dao Din, a student activist group based in Khon Kaen University, who were summoned by the police for commemorating the coup d’état.

The authorities told the group that Dao Din is an illegal anti-coup activist group. Therefore, joining their blessing ceremony could be counted as illegal activity as well.

The officers added that joining a political activity in Khon Kaen Province could be a disgrace to Kalasin. Gathering against petroleum drilling is allowed, but the activists should not collaborate with the Dao Din group, the authorities said.

Despite the warning, the four local activists insisted on showing support for the Dao Din group and said it is not illegal. Furthermore, the activists mentioned the controversial petroleum drilling plan in Kalasin Province, stating that they have the right to stand up and protect themselves against injustice.

At 10.40 am, members of the Neo E-saan Movement, an umbrella environmental justice group of the northeast, and five student activists requested to join in the meeting. The authorities, however, refused to allow them in, citing the small capacity of the meeting room.

At the end of the talk, the officer tried to convince the group to sign a paper agreeing not to join such political activities again, but the activists refused to sign, stating that public expression is the right of the people.

Similarly, on 10 June, Col. Amnuay Julnonyang, Deputy Army Commander of northeastern Loei Province, summoned leaders of the Khon Rak Ban Koed group (People Who Love Their Home) (KRBK) an anti-mine activist group in Loei, for a talk.

The group leaders, however, refused to meet with the officers in private and insisted on meeting publicly along with the local villagers.

Later, Col. Amnuay followed by 15 state officers met with the group in Wang Saphung District in the province.

The officers talked about the local irrigation in the district then warned the group about joining the blessing ceremony for the Dao Din activists and threatened the group with using Section 44 of the Interim Constitution, which allows security officers virtually unlimited power to maintain national security.   

The local villagers countered the officers by asking about the case of Tungkum Company Limited (Tungkum Co. Ltd), a gold mining company, which promised to withdraw lawsuits against the anti-mine activists last year, but instead filed 4 more cases against the villagers. The officers replied that they were unaware of this and would check on the matter again.