10 people abducted in latest junta crackdown on political dissent

The Thai military has abducted 10 people in Bangkok and the northeastern province of Khon Kaen in the junta’s latest crackdown on political dissidents.    

According to a reporter from Voice TV, Col Winthai Suwaree, spokesperson of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), said that the military on Wednesday morning, 27 April 2016, detained 10 people in total.

The NCPO spokesperson said that the 10 have committed offences under the Computer Crime Act (CCA), but did not disclose details as to which articles of the CCA the 10 allegedly breached.  

Col Winthai added that the NCPO cited its power under Section 44 of the Interim Charter to arrest the 10. The Section gives absolute power to the authorities to maintain national security and allows the regime to detain individuals for up to seven days without warrants.

Five of the 10 are: Noppaklao Kongsuwan, an activist and a radio co-host with Sombat Boonngamanong, a well-known political activist, Supachai Saibutr, a photographer, Harit Mahaton, former reporter of Matichon and independent writer, Nithi Kooltasnasilp and Vararat Mengpramool.  

Harit and Nithi were abducted from their residence in Khon Kaen while the rest were arrested in Bangkok. The identities of five other detainees are still unknown.

According to BBC Thai, Thavorn Saibutr, Supachai’s father, said that soldiers arrested Supachai from his house at 5:30 am today in Bangkok, citing national security. The father added that Supachai was taken to the 11th Military Circle in Bangkok.

In the latest update from TLHR, soldiers from Sri Patcharin Military Base in Khon Kaen informed the TLHR that Harit and Nithi will also be taken to the 11th Military Circle in Bangkok.

Khaosod English reported that Jatuporn Prompan, president of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), the main faction of the anti-establishment red shirt, said today that Noppaklao and Vararat Mengpramool are his close aides and administrators of his official page. He added that Noppaklao and Vararat also run the official Facebook page for the UDD.

On the same day, the New Democracy Movement (NDM), an anti-junta activist group, issued a public statement condemning the abduction of the 10, saying that such measures against political dissidents are barbaric and a serious violation of human rights.

The NDM urged the authorities to immediately release the detainees.

In response to the abduction, Anon Nampa, a well-known human rights lawyer and key leader of Resistant Citizen Group, posted a message on his Facebook account to condemn the abduction and invite others to stand still at the Victory Monument, Bangkok, to show solidarity with the 10.