Military court releases embattled democracy activist

Bangkok’s Military Court has released on bail an embattled activist who was arrested one day before he planned to petition the junta for information about the controversial Thai-Chinese railway deal.

On 26 June 2017, the Military Court of Bangkok granted bail to Rangsiman Rome, a key activist from the Democracy Restoration Group (DRG), one day after he was arrested and detained overnight at Chanasongkram Police Station in Bangkok. Bail was set at 60,000 baht.

Rangsiman was released on condition that he not travel overseas, incite conflict or participate in any political gatherings. He is expected to be released from Bangkok Remand Prison today.  

The police arrested him at Bangkok City Library at around 4:30 pm on Sunday, showing him an arrest warrant which was issued about one year ago.

The arrest was made a few hours before he was due to speak at an event commemorating the 85th anniversary of the 1932 Revolution titled “Start Up People: Start Up Talk & Music”.

Coincidentally Rangsiman’s arrest also came one day before the DRG had planned to submit a petition to the junta demanding details about the controversial Thai-Chinese railway deal.      

The arrest warrant was related to his distribution of flyers on 23 June 2016 calling for a no vote in the constitutional referendum last year.

Last year, Rangsiman and six other democracy activists were arrested and detained for about two weeks for allegedly violating the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Head’s Order No. 3/2015, the junta’s ban on political gatherings of five or more persons. They were also charged with violating the controversial Referendum Act for distributing campaign flyers.

If found guilty under the Referendum Act alone Rangsiman could face up to 10 years in prison, a fine of up to 200,000 baht and a loss of electoral rights for five years. For violating the junta’s public gathering ban, he could face up to six months in jail, be fined up to ten thousand baht, or both.

Rangsiman Rome in front of Bangkok's Military Court on 26 June 2017