Military summons red shirt for wearing red

Military officers in northern Thailand summoned a group of anti-establishment red shirts for a discussion after they wore red shirts.

According to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), military officers in the northern province of Chiang Rai summoned Somchai Saengthong and three other red shirts for a meeting at the 37th Army Division on Monday morning, 2 November 2015.

At the military base, Maj Gen Phisan Nakphachon, the Army Division Commander, and three other military officials asked the four why they wore red shirts on Sunday, 1 November 2015, and what they think about the court case against former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who currently faces corruption charges over the rice subsidy program.

In the discussion with lasted about one hour, the officers also asked them their thoughts on the current political situation and their addresses, saying that they might be ‘invited’ for discussions again.

The officers added that any political movement must be under the law.

On Sunday morning, 1 November 2015, Somchai and the three other red shirts were interrogated briefly by military and police officers some of whom were in plainclothes at Big C Department Store after they put on red shirts, joining a viral red shirt campaign to support the ex-PM.

During the Sunday discussion, the officers told the four that they should not participate in any political campaign because it might incite conflict, and then summoned them for a talk at the military base on Monday morning.

Also on Sunday, Anurak Jentawanit, a red shirt who collects funds to provide support for political prisoners, posted on his Facebook profile that plain clothes officers from the Special Branch of the Thai Police came to visit him at his house in the morning. He added that military officers were seen driving around his house in the afternoon.

On the same day, military and police officers from Chokchai Police Station went to the Big C Department Store in Lat Phrao District of Bangkok to inspect another red shirt gathering. After a discussion with the group members who claimed that they only gathered to sing, the officers did not disband the meeting, but ordered that no political symbol can be shown.

Last week, military officers 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.

At the 34th Army Division in Phayao, an army 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. The officer also 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.

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