Anti-junta youth activists vow to fight on despite risk of detention

Anti-junta youth activists facing arrest warrants have vowed to fight on despite intimidation from the authorities and the risk of detention.

Sirawit Serithiwat, 23, Chonticha Jaeng-rew, 22, Chanoknan Ruamsap, 22, Abhisit Sapnaphapan, 29, and Korakoch Saengyenpan, 23, five embattled pro-democracy activists currently facing arrest warrants, gathered at Thonburi Railway Station in Bangkok at 10:15 am on Saturday, 16 January 2016.

The activists read out a group statement, saying that they will continue to stand firm on their demand to promote transparency of governance under the military regime and promote democracy and human rights despite the risks involved.

“If we are arrested we will not request bail, but we will fight on to make society realise that no matter how many charges we face and how many times we face arrest, we will stand firm to tell the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) and society that we have not committed crimes. People should have a voice about the direction their country is taking,” Chonticha told Prachatai before the gathering.

Last year, Chonticha was the only female activist who was detained for about two weeks with 13 other youth activists from the New Democracy Group and Dao Din after they gathered in central Bangkok to commemorate the 2014 coup d’état.

After reading out the statement, the five activists folded their arrest warrants into origami doves.

About 40 police and military officers were deployed at the station to monitor the gathering. However, the officers chose not to arrest the activists.

The police, nonetheless, said that they can arrest the activists any time they want to.

The five are among 11 young activists who are accused of violating the junta’s National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Order No. 3/2015, which prohibits political gatherings of five or more persons, after they participated in a failed excursion to Rajabhakti Park in Prachuap Khiri Khan Province on 7 December 2015 to investigate corruption allegations at the park.

Thanet Anantawong, one the 11, reportedly fled the country last week and is believed to be in Laos.

Thanet was earlier arrested by military officers in early December 2015 and held incommunicado for five days.

On 8 January 2016, Sirawit and five other activists went to the police station. However, they refused to report, saying that they did nothing wrong and were only exercising their rights as active citizens.

Out of the 11, Sirawit and Cholticha have already been charged with violating the junta’s political gathering ban as a result of their previous political activities.

Five anti-junta activists at Thonburi Railway Station on 16 January 2016