20 red shirts in Isaan indicted for defying junta’s assembly ban

A military prosecutor in Isaan, Thailand’s northeast, has indicted 20 villagers accused of breaking the junta’s ban on political gatherings.

On 9 November 2016, the military prosecutor of the 24th Military Circle in Udon Thani Province formally indicted 20 anti-establishment red shirts, according to the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR)
The villagers were accused of violating 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, after participating in a red-shirt referendum watch campaign on 19 June 2016 in Song Dao District of the neighboring Sakon Nakhon Province.
The event was organised by the local members of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), the main red-shirt faction affiliated with Thaksin Shinawatra, the former controversial Prime Minister.  

In a photograph taken from the event that appeared on social media, some of the 20 posed in front of the banner of the UDD’s referendum watch campaign with a message reads “Referendum must not be stolen, cancelled, or shamed by Myanmar.” Almost half of the accused are senior citizens.

According to the military, the red shirt villagers were attempting to discredit the military government and the controversial referendum on the junta-sponsored draft constitution that was held on 7 August 2016.

After the indictment, the military court granted them bail under 10,000 baht surety each. The preliminary hearing on the case will be held on 9 January 2017.

But TLHR reported villagers did not really participate in the referendum watch campaign on 19 June, as the authorities alleged, because the event was cancelled before it even began.

Narasit Ritthitham, a local UDD leader who is among the 20, said that about 100 villagers travelled to the referendum watch venue on 19 June. However, the event was cancelled abruptly when about 10 soldiers and police officers arrived at the scene.

He said that the villagers merely took pictures with the banner of the referendum watch centre before they left the venue.


The indicted villagers (Photo from: Thai Lawyers for Human Rights)


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