Activists targeted in junta’s crackdown on mafia

The Thai military summoned a key leader of a group campaigning against a waste-fired power plant for a discussion, saying that he is on the list of ‘influential figures’.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) reported that on Wednesday, 30 March 2016, military officers released Taweesak Inkwang, a key leader of a campaign against a waste-fired power plant in Chiang Rak Yai Subdistrict in the central province of Pathum Thani, after hours of discussion.

Taweesak received a summons from the military on 26 March. The letter ordered him to report to the Military Coordinating Centre in Sam Khok District at 1:30 pm on 30 March.

During the discussion which lasted until 3:30 pm on Wednesday, Lt Col Amnat Khamwiset, Commander of the 4th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Division, informed him that his name appeared on the list of influential figures which had been sent to him from the 1st Army Division.

The Commander then asked him to delete an image of the summons which Taweesak had posted on social media on 26 March, adding that his activities against the waste-fired power plant must remain within the framework of the law.

Taweesak told the military officer that it is perhaps a mistake that his name came up on the list of influential figures and that he has been active in the campaign against the power plant only for the benefit of the local community.

He also told the officer that his activities against the waste-fired power plant are always carried out lawfully.

Taweesak told the TLHR in an interview before he reported to the military that the primary reason for the summons was probably because of his stand against the waste-fired power plant and the fact that he was one of the speakers at a recent environmental forum titled ‘People’s vision over community rights and the environment: City Planning.’ The forum was organised at Thammasat University, Tha Prachan Campus, on 18 March.   

Earlier on Tuesday, military officers detained Lamom Bunyong, a 65-year-old fisherman, and two other people from a fishing village in Mueang District of the eastern province of Rayong.

The document issued by the Royal Thai Navy ordering the detention of the three fishermen, states that Lamom is on the list of influential figures of Rayong.  The order was posted on the Facebook profile of Arpa Wangkiat, lecturer at the Department of Environmental Engineering of Rangsit University.

Rattanamanee Ponkla, member of the Subcommittee on Community and Resource Rights under the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), reported that Lamom earlier filed a complaint to the NHRC over the eviction of a fishing community by the military and public administration officials. About 10 families were affected by the eviction which is currently being investigated by the NHRC.

In 2014, Lamom and other fishermen in Rayong also filed a lawsuit against PTT Global Chemical after they were affected by a petroleum leakage by the company in 2013.

On Tuesday, Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, the junta leader and Prime Minister, issued National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Order No. 13/2016.

The new NCPO order grants soldiers with the rank of sub-lieutenant upwards with the authority to arrest and detain suspects, conduct searches, seize assets, suspend financial transactions and impose travel bans on individuals without warrants or judicial review.

The junta leader invoked the authority of Section 44 of the Interim Constitution, which gives the authorities absolute power to enact orders, saying that this order will make the crackdown on influential criminal figures throughout the country more effective.