Military accuses Chiang Mai villager of sedition over red bowl

Thai military summoned a villager in the northern province of Chiang Mai for posting a picture of a red bowl with the signature of the controversial former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra on it and accused her of sedition.

Thairath Online reported that at 3 pm on Monday, 28 March 2016, military officers from the 33rd Military Circle in Chiang Mai summoned a member of the anti-establishment Red Shirts from San Kamphaeng District for a discussion over the picture of the red bowl, which she earlier posted on social media.

On the red bowl is a message reading “Although the situation is very heated, may all brothers and sisters receive cool bliss from this bowl with love and care. Happy Songkran Day” and Thaksin’s signature.          

The picture of the bowl was posted together with images of Thaksin and his sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, with a message reading “Happy 2016 Songkran Day, this Songkran, I especially miss all my brothers and sisters very much and want to help you solve problems, but before that I would like to send encouragement, love and thoughts.”

Thairath added that as she was summoned, police officers in plainclothes were also reportedly dispatched to take pictures around her house.  

During the discussion, the villager told the army officers that she got the bowl from a political group and that she planned to use it for the upcoming Songkran festival. The officer then told her that posting the picture of the bowl is a threat to national security and took her to Mae Ping Police Station.

According to Pol Col Nathiphat Akharaphongthiti, the Red Shirt was not detained. However, on Tuesday, she will be brought to Chiang Mai Military Court to listen to an accusation against her under Article 116 of the Criminal Code, the sedition law.

Anon Nampa, a well-known human rights lawyer, posted on his Facebook profile  that in response to the accusation he has contacted his associates in Chiang Mai to provide legal aid for the accused.

He added on his Facebook profile “Sometimes our society has gone mad to the point that I’m dumbfounded.”    

Article 116 of the Criminal Code states that whoever makes apparent to the public by words, writing or any other means anything which is not an act within the purpose of the constitution or which is not the expression of an honest opinion or criticism (a) in order to bring about a change in the laws or the government by the use of coercion or violence, (b) in order to raise confusion or disaffection amongst the people to the point of causing unrest in the kingdom, or (c) have people violate the law, shall be punished with imprisonment not exceeding seven years.

The picture of the red bowl with images of Yingluck and Thaksin Shinawatra in the background (Photo from Paisan Chanpan’s Facebook page)