Thai authorities sack Deputy Village Head for allowing human rights rally

The authorities in Isan, Thailand’s northeast, have fired a Deputy Village Head because he allowed a human rights rally to take place.

Phanthep Saokoson, District Chief of Chum Phae District of Khon Kaen Province, on 1 July 2016 summoned Charun Saeram, the 57-year-old Deputy Village Head of Sam Pak Nam Village in the district, to his office and informed him that he had been removed from his position, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) reported.

Charun told TLHR that the District Chief only told him that he was already fired and that the military ordered it, but did not specify any reason as to why he was sacked.

The District Chief then told Charun that many participants in the Walk for Rights will be prosecuted. The month-long rally across northeastern Thailand is to raise awareness of rights of the people. Many of the participants are from the New E-Saan Movement, a human rights activist group based in the Northeast.

After being fired, Charun, who was paid 5,000 baht a month as a Deputy Village Head, said “From now on, I will fight as an ordinary person.”  

Earlier on the night of 13 June 2016, three plainclothes soldiers visited Charun at his house and asked him about the Walk for Rights rally, which had stopped at Sam Pak Nam Village and been welcomed by Charun and other villagers on 11 June.

Charun told the soldiers then that the rally participants were merely youth activists who had engaged in social projects in the village in the past. The soldiers then told Charun that they wanted to summon him for a discussion at a military camp.

According to TLHR, the authorities fired Charun unlawfully because under the 1914 Local Administration Act, a Deputy Village Head can only be removed before his or her official retirement with the authorisation of the Provincial Governor after it is proved that he or she has neglected public duties.