Ubon man taken for psychological examination for ‘no vote’ campaign

A man in Isaan, northeastern Thailand, has been sent for a psychological examination over a ‘no vote’ campaign while policemen raided another northeasterner’s home over a ‘vote no’ t-shirt.

Police officers of Phibun Mangsahan District in Ubon Ratchathani Province on Tuesday, 26 July 2016, arrested Wichan Phuwihan, a 48-year-old man from Bangkok, at the district market.

Wichan was arrested for shouting at people not to turn up for the 7 August public referendum on the draft constitution.

Wichan told police that he was a key member of a political group called ‘People’s Peaceful Revolution’ and that he disagrees with the draft constitution referendum.   

Suspecting that Wichan might be mentally ill, the police took him to the provincial hospital and forced him to undergo a psychological examination.

After a doctor concluded that Wichan has no mental disorder, the police then detained him on suspicion of causing instability and violating the controversial Public Referendum Act.  

According to Manager Online, in July 2015, Wichan joined a Buddhist nationalist group to submit a petition to the King, calling on the Thai authorities to reclaim ownership of land at Preah Vihear Temple, an ancient Hindu temple, from Cambodia.

Earlier in 2013, he also joined the same political group to cross into the Cambodian side of the disputed temple and stage a hunger strike in protest at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) 2013 ruling, which stated that the land east and west of the temple belongs to Cambodia and that any Thai security forces still in that area should leave.

Also on Tuesday, 26 July 2016, police officers in Mueang District of Ubon Ratchathani raided the home of Atithep Imwut, 25, after he was spotted wearing a ‘vote no’ t-shirt to campaign against the draft constitution, Khaosod News reported.

During interrogation, Atithep told the police that he got the t-shirt from a friend because he thought that it looked cool. The police later let him go, but said that they might summon him later for further interrogation.

Under the controversial Article 61 of the Referendum Act, 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, could face up to 10 years imprisonment, a fine of up to 200,000 baht and loss of electoral rights for five years.