5 villagers summoned for wearing ‘vote no’ t-shirts

The authorities in the northern Thailand have summoned five villagers for five days of lectures after an image of them wearing t-shirts campaigning for ‘vote no’ in the August referendum was shared on social media.
 
On Thursday, 21 July 2016, soldiers, police officers, and local administration officials summoned five villagers of Ban Hat Pha Khan, Long District, Phrae Province in northern Thailand, for an hour-long lecture session each day for five days without filing charges. The authorities also had the villagers sign a document promising not to participate in any political activity, reported Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR).  
 
According to TLHR, this came after a picture of the five wearing ‘vote no’ t-shirts in the campaign for the August charter draft referendum appeared on the Facebook page of Anurak Jentawanit, aka Ford Red Path, a red-shirt activist, on 19 July. After the photo was published, six local authority officials visited the village chief's house that evening, asking him to summon the villagers in the picture. The authorities then informed the villagers to report to the District Office on Thursday.
 
The authorities also told the five villagers that the photo could be considered a breach of the junta’s ban on public gatherings, which prohibits political assemblies comprising five people or more. However, if they voluntarily underwent the lectures by the authorities at Long District Office, they would not be prosecuted. The authorities also urged the five not to report the story to the media.
 
A villager (name withheld by the original source) told TLHR that the intimidation has also frightened other villagers since, in the past couple days, the authorities visited the homes of the five and took pictures at the front door. Some elders were shocked as they never experienced such intimidation before and many of them are not even red-shirt supporters.    
 
 
The picture on the Ford Red Path Facebook fanpage with the caption “A beautiful shot of ‘Vote No’ and ‘Say No’ campaign from our democratic brothers and sisters in Long District, Phrae Province. Let’s advocate democracy together. Reject the constitution that oppresses people just by going to the polling station and marking ‘No’ on both ballots” (source: Ford Red Path Facebook page)
 

 

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