Military intimidates red shirts at briefing on referendum watch campaign

A policeman and a military officer attempted to bar anti-establishment red shirts from holding a press briefing to open a centre to monitor the draft charter referendum despite the junta leader’s promise that opening such centres is allowed.  

Pol Col Suphon Khamchu and Sub Lt Sunthon Yoddee on Sunday, 5 June 2016, visited TV 24 broadcasting station in Lat Phrao District, Bangkok.

At the station, the officers asked Jatuporn Prompan, leader of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), the main faction of red shirts affiliated with Thaksin Shinawatra, former controversial Prime Minister, and other key members of the UDD, including Thida Thavornseth and Nattawut Saikua, to cancel a press briefing to launch the Anti-Electoral Fraud in the Referendum Centre, Lokwannee News reported.

The officers told the red shirt leaders that their superiors ordered them to request the cancellation of the briefing.

Refusing to cancel the briefing, Jatuporn told the officers that Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, the junta leader and Prime Minister, said earlier that opening such centres will be tolerated. Therefore, the officers should allow them to continue.

Last week, the UDD leaders announced that they will launch an Anti-Electoral Fraud in the Referendum Centre to monitor the public referendum to pass the junta-sponsored draft constitution, which will be held on 7 August 2016.  

In the campaign, red-shirt volunteers will watch the referendum at polling stations across the country to prevent fraud, TV24 Newsroom reported.

The key UDD members last week also visited the Election Commission of Thailand (ECT), asking the Commission to send experts to educate the red shirt volunteers who will participate in the campaign.

Military and police officers request key leaders of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) to halt the briefing to open a centre to monitor the public referendum on the draft constitution on 5 June 2016