Military court releases anti-junta youth activists

The military court has rejected a police request to detain anti-junta youth activists calling for an investigation into corruption allegations concerning a park constructed by the Royal Thai Army.

The Military Court of Bangkok on Thursday at 4 pm, 21 January 2016, declined to grant the police permission to detain Sirawit Serithiwat, 23, Chonticha Jaeng-rew, 22, Chanoknan Ruamsap, 22, and Korakoch Saengyenpan, 23.

The four anti-junta activists, three of whom are affiliated with the New Democracy Movement (NDM), faced arrest after being 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, for participating in a failed excursion to Rajabhakti Park in Prachuap Khiri Khan Province on 7 December 2015 to investigate corruption allegations at the park.

Last night Sirawit was abducted by eight military officers and reportedly abused  before he was transferred to Nimit Mai Police Station.  The three other activists were detained by the police this morning after they went to give him moral support.

Many pro-democracy activists and friends of the four went to the military court to support the embattled activists and call for their release before the military court decision was read out.   

Earlier today, Col Winthai Suvaree, spokesperson of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), denied the allegation that military officers abused Sirawit while he was in their custody, and claimed that the officers did everything in accordance with the law.

On the same day, Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, the junta leader and Prime Minister, scolded the activists, telling the media that the activists have also committed crimes under Article 116 of the Criminal Code, the law on sedition, on top of violating the NCPO’s order.

When asked about the abduction of Sirawit the junta leader said “They can arrest [them] by any means. What? When you witness the arrest and take pictures, are you going to stop the officers? When [the officers] arrest thieves, why don’t you say something?”

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