Thai police question southern journalist over links with anti-junta student activists

The police in southern Thailand have questioned a freelance journalist about his political opinions and asked whether he is linked to anti-junta student activists in Thailand’s northeast and Deep South insurgent groups.

On Wednesday afternoon, Pol Lt Col Parinya Hemachukiatkun, the Chief Inspector of the Special Branch Police of the southern province of Trang, came to inspect the house of Pratyakiat Waro, an independent journalist, while he was not home.

Upon hearing about the police’s visit, Pratyakiat contacted the police. During the brief exchange, the police asked him about his trip to Khon Kaen on 12-14 June, which he took with five other persons, all of whom are members of civil society organisations in the deep south, such as Patani Forum and the Federation of Pattani Student and Youth (PERMAS).

During the visit, they met with village activists from the Ban Na Mun-Dun Sat Environmental Protection Group, an activist group which has been campaigning against gas drilling in the Northeast of Thailand, and the Dao Din Group, a student activist group based in Khon Kaen.

Pratyakiat told the police that meetings with the activist groups in the Northeast were to exchange experience on environmental and social situations.

The police then probed him further about whether he is associated with northeastern anti-junta student activists and Deep South insurgent groups. The police officer also wanted to know about the journalist’s political opinions.  

Pratyakiat explained to the police that he is a journalist who reports news about conflicts between communities and the state, such as conflicts over the Pak Bara Development Project or the coal power plant projects in Trang and Krabi provinces.

The journalist said that the police invited him for further discussions because they wanted to know about his political attitudes, but he declined, saying he was unavailable.

He added that of the six who travelled to Khon Kaen to meet the activist groups, he was the only one to be called upon.

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