More people accused over constitution seminar

Nearly two months after the referendum on the junta-sponsored constitution, the police are summoning more people for violating the junta’s ban on political gatherings over a public seminar about the constitution.

On 26 September 2016, police in Khon Kaen Province issued summons for Cherdchai Tantisirin, former Member of Parliament for the Pheu Thai Party, Panwadee Tantisirin, lecturer in the Nursing Faculty of Khon Kaen University, Rangsiman Rome, key member of the New Democracy Movement (NDM), Panupong Sritananuwat, activist from the Dao Din Group, and another person who requested anonymity, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) reported.

They are ordered to report to Mueang District Police Station in Khon Kaen at 10 am on 28 September.

The five are accused of breaking the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Head’s Order 3/2015, the junta’s ban on political gatherings of five or more persons, by participating in a public discussion called ‘Talk for Freedom: Constitution and Isaan People’.

The talk about the junta-sponsored draft constitution was held at Khon Kaen University on 31 July 2016.  

Earlier, six people were summoned under the same accusation, including Jatuphat Boonyapatraksa, a well-known pro-democracy activist who was recently released from custody after nearly two weeks of a hunger strike, Duangthip Khanrit and Niranut Niamsap, TLHR staff, and others.

According to TLHR, Duangthip and Niranut were merely monitoring the 31 July seminar and had no involvement with its organization.

Up to now, 11 people have been summoned by police for participating in, observing, and organising the talk on the constitution on 31 July.

Before the talk, Jirawat Sanitchon, Deputy Dean of Khon Kaen University’s Faculty of Agriculture, had attempted to bar the activists from hosting the event, reasoning that the talk could make the institution seem ‘politically biased’.

After the attempt failed, university staff and local Election Commission of Thailand (ECT) officials filed a complaint to the police against the anti-junta youth activists and other participants at the event, accusing them of trespassing into a public building without permission and violating the controversial Public Referendum Act.

Thai authorities intervene in a public discussion on the draft constitution organized by the NDM at Khon Kaen University on 31 July 2016