Being charged or undertaking attitude adjustment, military tells red shirts

The Thai military have accused red shirts in Phrae of breaking the junta’s ban on political gatherings and summoned them for a four-day attitude adjustment session in exchange for having charges against them withdrawn.

The 12th Cavalry Squadron of the Royal Thai Army on 1 July 2016 contacted five red shirts in Den Chai District of the northern province of Phrae and summoned them for so-called attitude adjustment, a form of detention with lectures from the military, at Phraya Chaiyabun Military Camp in the province from 4-8 July 2016, Thai Human Rights Lawyers (TLHR) reported.

The five are: Pritsana Theppituphong, 61; Wandi Plaengchai, 58; Phuangthong Namson, 58; Nonglak Charoenwong, 70; and Sairung Phimsaen, 47.

The five were summoned because on 19 June they took a group picture with the banner of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), the main red-shirt faction affiliated with Thaksin Shinawatra. The picture was taken in front of Pritsana’s house with many other red shirts.

After the picture was posted on social media, soldiers and police officers visited Pritsana during the night of 19 June and forced her to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU), promising not to participate in any political activity in the future.

The next day, soldiers from the 12th Cavalry Squadron filed a complaint at Den Chai Police Station, accusing Pritsana and four others of violating the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Head’s Order No. 3/2015, the junta’s ban on political gatherings of five or more persons.

After being summoned, the five said that they agree to undertake attitude adjustment as the military informed them that the charges will be withdrawn if they do.

The authorities added that they will not be detained overnight at the military base, but will have to travel to the base every day for the four-day attitude adjustment session.

Section 12 of the NCPO Head’s Order 3/2015 states that the authorities can withdraw charges against people accused of breaking the junta’s ban on political gatherings if they agree to participate in attitude adjustment sessions although in reality people are usually forced to participate.

Under the junta’s National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Head Order No. 3/2015, any political gathering of five or more persons is prohibited. Offenders face up to one year in prison, a 20,000 baht fine, or both.

Pritsana Theppituphong and other red shirts in Phrae Province pose in front of a UDD banner on the draft charter referendum watch campaign on 19 June 2016 (courtesy of TLHR)