Leading anti-junta activists under fire over referendum MV

Key members of Resistant Citizen, a well-known anti-junta activists group, and other leading pro-democracy activists might be charged with Computer Crime Act over performing in a music video on the draft constitution referendum.

Somchai Srisuthiyakorn, Election Commissioner of Thailand (ECT), said on Thursday, 9 June 2016, that Anon Nampa, Sirawit Serithiwat, Sombat Boonngamanong, Parit Chiwarak and Nattapat Akhad, leading anti-junta activists, together with more than 20 individuals performing in a music video titled ‘this one needs to be kheed (vote no and reject it)’ might be charged with the 2007 Computer Crime Act, Matichon Online reported.

The video featuring most of the leading anti-junta activists was initially produced by Resistant Citizen to campaign about the upcoming public referendum on the junta-sponsored draft constitution. The video had virally been shared on social media.

Somchai said that from the investigation the video clip was posted on YouTube from the first time on 13 April 2016, which was before the Draft Referem Act was enacted. Therefore, people involved in its production and those who posted the video for the first time will not be charged with the Draft Referendum Act.

The ECT commissioner, however, added that the activists performing in the MV might instead be charged under the 2007 Computer Crime Act or for violating the orders and announcements of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) instead.

People who shared the MV after the Draft Referem Act came into force on 23 April 2016 might be charged for violating the referendum act, warned Somchai.

On Wednesday, Somchai said that a well-known Facebook page recently posted the music video with the caption ‘good work must be shared’, adding it reportedly contains rude language and distorts facts about the draft constitution. Therefore, it might be illegal under Article 61 of the Referendum Act.

The controversial Article 61 of the Referendum Act imposes a prison term of up to 10 years, a fine of up to 200,000 baht and loss of electoral rights for five years on anyone who publishes or distributes content about the draft constitution which deviates from the facts, contains rude and violent language, or threateningly discourages voters from participating in the referendum.

Recently, Thailand’s Ombudsman Office submitted a request to the Constitutional Court to rule whether Article 61 of the Referendum Act is unconstitutional or not as many political dissidents criticise that it allows the authorities to suppress critics of the junta-sponsored draft constitution because it is written ambiguously.

The Constitutional Court has accepted the request.

Some of the activists featuring in the Resistant Citizen's MV o campaign about the upcoming public referendum on the draf constitution

Anon Nampa, key member of Resistant Citizen and human rights lawyer

Sirawit Serithiwat, embattled anti-junta activist

Parit Chiwarak, anti-junta youth activist and secretary-seneral of Education for Liberation of Siam, a group comprising mostly high school students campaigning for progressive education reform

Sombat Boonngamanong, the leader of Red Sunday, a progressive anti-establishment red shirt group.

Kath Khangpiboon, a prominent Thai LGBTI activist