Military warns northern red shirt not to wear red

Thai military officers have asked the coordinator of a northern anti-establishment red shirt group not wear a red shirt to show support for the former Prime Minister.    

According to Thailand Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), military officers from the 34th Army Division on Monday, 26 October 2015, summoned Siriwat Jupamadta, coordinator of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), the main red shirt faction, of the northern province of Phayao for a discussion.

Siriwat reported that three military officers were waiting for him at 8 am on Monday at a condominium in Phayao Province where he works. After their meeting, at about 9 am, he travelled to the 34th Army Division in his own vehicle together with the officers.

At the army base, Maj Gen Wirat Panchanon, Commander of the 34th Army Division, requested a private discussion with him about the red shirt campaign to wear red shirts on 1 November 2015 in order to show support for the ex-Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who now faces corruption charges over the rice subsidy program.

The commander asked Siriwat not to wear a red shirt on 1 November for the sake of “peace and order” because it might cause political conflict. Moreover, the officer requested the red shirt coordinator not to post his political opinions on social networks.

Siriwat told the officers that he did not know who initiated the campaign to wear red shirts to support the ex-PM. He, however, told the officers that he posted statements to support the campaign on Facebook and invited others to join it.

The red shirt coordinator further told the officer that he does not think that wearing a red shirt could be a threat to national security since he normally wears a red shirt.   

The talk lasted for about an hour after which Siriwat was released without having to sign any document, but military officers told him that he should ask them first before posting any political content online.

Siriwat was active in the red shirt movement in Phayao Province and was a community radio host. He, however, had to stop his activities after the 2014 coup d’état as the military government forced the closure of red shirt community radio stations throughout the country.

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