Anti-junta activists refuse to testify before military court

Four embattled anti-coup activists charged with violating the junta’s ban on political gatherings have refused to testify before a military court, saying the court does not have jurisdiction over their case.

On Thursday morning, 8 October 2015, four well-known anti-junta activists from the Resistant Citizen Group, indicted for defying in February 2015 the junta’s National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Order No. 7/2014, which prohibits an assembly of five people or more from organising a political gathering, refused to testify before the Military Court in Bangkok.

The activists reasoned that they should be tried by the court of justice not a military court because they are civilians.

After refusing to testify, the four submitted a request to the military court to rule whether jurisdiction over their case should be transferred to the court of justice or not. The military court accepted the request.  

The four activists are Sirawit Serithiwat, a student activist from Thammasat University, Pansak Srithep, a pro-democracy 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.

Anon, one of the four suspects who is also a defence lawyer in the case, said that after the military court finalises the decision over the jurisdiction of the case, a similar request will be sent to the court of justice.

If the court of justice disagrees with the military court’s decision, a committee on court jurisdiction will be formed to finalise which court should handle the case in accordance to Article 10 of the 1999 Court Jurisdiction Act.

On 14 February 2015, Resistant Citizen held an event entitled “The election that was loved (stolen)” which called for an election and commemorated the latest election on 2 February 2014. The four were arrested after the event ended.

Anon is also facing accusations under Article 14 (2) of the Computer Crime Act for his Facebook posts concerning the junta, while Pansak is facing 3 more charges for his leading role in a march on 17 March 2015. They are:

  • ·       Defying NCPO Order No. 7/2014
  • ·       Violating Article 14 of the Computer Crime Act
  • ·       Violating Section 116 of the Criminal Code (Sedition)

The four well-known anti-junta activists from the anti-junta Resistant Citizen Group in front of the Military Court of Bangkok on 8 October 2015 (photo courtesy of Resistant Citizen Facebook page)