People gather to demand release of red shirt charged with sedition for defaming PM

Anti-junta activists and others gathered at Bangkok Remand Prison to urge the release of an anti-establishment red shirt single mother charged with sedition for posting a false rumour about the Thai junta leader.  

At 6 pm on Sunday 12 July 2015, anti-junta activists from the Chili Peppers group and about 30 others gathered in front of Bangkok Remand Prison to call on the Thai authorities to release Rinda (surname withheld due to privacy concerns), a red-shirt woman nicknamed “Lin,” 45, who was arrested last week for spreading a false rumour about Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, the junta leader and Prime Minister, and his wife.

Military officers arrested the red shirt woman without a warrant on 8 July and detained her incommunicado for a night at a military base before transferring her to the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD) the next day.  

The police charged her under Articles 116 and 348 of the Penal Code, the laws on sedition and on spreading rumours that might cause public panic, for sharing an online message through the Line chat application and Facebook that the PM and his wife sent about 10 billion baht to a secret bank account in Singapore .

In addition, Lin is charge under Article 14/2 of the Computer Crime Code for importing false information into the internet. If found guilty under Article 116 alone, she could face up to seven years’ imprisonment.

According to Nituch Prasertnetikul, Lin’s defence lawyer, the military court on Friday, 10 July 2015, denied bail to the suspect, citing that she might attempt to tamper with the evidence.  

A woman known by the name of Pia Surawet, Lin’s friend, told people on Sunday who came to support the suspect that the military court should grant Lin bail because she did not commit a serious criminal offense. She added that Lin usually shared pictures and information about her children on Facebook and that the message she was charged with only had 50 likes.

“Posting a message doesn’t destroy national security. If the military is really strong, the [military] government which came to power like this should not be afraid of a small woman,” said Pia.

An anti-just student activist known as ‘Champ’, who was known for holding an anti-junta reading mob shortly after the 2014 coup d’état, also came to demand Lin’s release and said that the authorities should not mix up the personal security of Gen Prayut with that of the nation.

“The security of Gen Prayut is not same as the security of the nation,” said Champ. “If you are the PM, you must be able to accept this. You are not the nation, the nation is the people.”

People who gathered in front of Bangkok Remand Prison on Sunday held placards saying “Free Lin”, “Free political prisoners”, and “Release a mother to be reunited with her children”.

The activists and others also lit candles in front of the prison and read a group statement demanding her release.

At 9 pm on the same day, the Resistant Citizen Group, an anti-junta activist group, also released a statement on the group’s Facebook page that Lin should be released unconditionally and that she should not be tried by a military court.

Lin is a single mom of a daughter aged 13 and a son aged 7. Nituch Prasertnetikul, Lin’s defence lawyer, will submit another bail request for Lin on Monday, 13 July 2015.

People held placards which say “release citizens” and “release a mother to be reunited with her children” on Sunday, 12 July 2015, in front of Bangkok Remand Prison to call for Lin’s release  

 

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