Retired teacher charged with sedition for giving flowers to anti-junta activist

The authorities have arrested and pressed sedition charges against a 77-year-old teacher for giving flowers to support an anti-junta activist.

According to Free Thai Legal Aid (FTLA), their lawyers on Monday 10 am, 26 October 2015, submitted a bail request for Preecha Kaewbanpaew, a 77-year-old retired teacher, to the Military Court of Bangkok.

At around 2 pm, the Military Court granted bail to the retired teacher on a 150,000 baht bond, using his Government Saving Bank Premium Savings Certificate and 1,000 baht cash as surety.  

According to Winyat Chatmontri, General Secretary of the FTLA, Preecha is charged under Article 116 of the Criminal Code, the sedition law, and violation of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Order No. 7/2014 for participating in a political gathering of five or more people.

Winyat told Prachatai that the retired teacher was charged with giving flowers to support Pansak Srithep, a pro-democracy activist and the father of a boy killed by the military during the 2010 political violence, while the activist was leading a three-day march called “I Walk Therefore I Am” on 15 March 2015 to campaign against the use of military courts to try civilians. The march was organised by Resistant Citizen, an anti-junta activist group.

He also briefly joined the march from the Democracy Monument to Thammasat University, Tha Prachan Campus.

Preecha was only informed about the charges and that there was an arrest warrant against him when he was arrested by immigration officers and sent to Chana Songkhram Police Station in Bangkok on Sunday, 25 October 2015, when he was about to travel to Laos for sightseeing.

He was detained at Chana Songkhram Police Station for a night for interrogation.

Pansak and three other activists from the Resistant Citizen Group are also accused of sedition and of violating the junta’s political gathering ban for their anti-junta activities

Article 116 of the Criminal Code states that whoever makes apparent to the public by words, writing or any other means anything which is not an act within the purpose of the constitution or which is not the expression of an honest opinion or criticism (a) in order to bring about a change in the laws or the government by the use of coercion or violence, (b) in order to raise confusion or disaffection amongst the people to the point of causing unrest in the kingdom, or (c) have people violate the law, shall be punished with imprisonment not exceeding seven years.