Rajabhakti park scandal used as ploy against junta: anti-election protest leader

After a number of  activists were arrested en route to Rajabhakti Park to investigate its corruption scandals, the poster child of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), the anti-election protest group, said that the park scandal is being used as a trap to pit people against the military government.

According to Matichon Online, Suthep Thaugsuban, the PDRC leader who roamed the streets of Bangkok before the coup d’état, on Monday, 7 December 2015, expressed his opinions about movements by several political groups who are pointing fingers at corruption allegations surrounding Rajabhakti Park.

The PDR leader said that ‘certain groups’ are using the corruption scandal of Rajabhakti Park to discredit the military government.

“Corruption, no matter big or small, is a problem, but they expand it to make it seems larger than the Rice Pledge Scheme,” Matichon quoted Suthep as saying. “As some groups of people are using it [the park corruption scandal] to try to topple or discredit the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), I confirm that the PDRC will not be moved by this and Thai people will not fall into this trap.”

On the same day, the Students Council of Thammasat University, Rangsit Campus, issued a statement against the detention of many student activists and others who were detained while on a train to Rajabhakti Park in Prachuap Khiri Khan Province.

In the statement the Student Council demanded the release of all detained activists, adding that the authorities’ measures are violations of human rights and freedom of expression.

Amnesty International also issued a statement against the authorities' measures. 

Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s Southeast Asia and Pacific Regional Office Director said “these heavy-handed and completely unjustifiable arrests highlight Thailand’s need to remove the military’s powers of arbitrary detention, which are being used to harass and criminalise peaceful dissent.”

The AI Regional Director added “this group, some of whom were also denied access to lawyers, were detained merely for peacefully exercising their right to speak out against alleged corruption.”

According to Resistant Citizen, an anti-junta political group, at around 10 am yesterday, military and police officers at Ban Pong train station in Ratchaburi Province detained more than a dozen anti-junta activists who were on an excursion to Rajabhakti Park.

Among those detained were Anon Nampa, a well-known anti-junta lawyer, who was charged with defying the junta’s ban on political gatherings earlier this year, and Sirawit Serithiwat, who is also facing a similar charge.  

The excursion was organised by Resistant Citizen and several well-known pro-democracy activists to investigate the corruption scandals surrounding the park which was constructed by the Thai military.

After detaining several activists, the authorities decoupled the train carriage carrying the activists and others to prevent them from travelling to Rajabhakti Park in Prachuap Khiri Khan Province, Resistant Citizen reported.

In addition, the authorities also closed down Rajabhakti Park to make sure that the activists and their supporters would not be able to access it.

The detained activists were released on Monday night.