Police press charges against 11 participants of discussion about 2017 Constitution

Almost one year after the constitution referendum in 2016, the police have concluded to press charges against 11 people accused of breaking the junta’s political gathering ban for participating in a discussion about the 2017 Constitution.

On 3 July 2017, the police from Mueang District Police Station of Khon Kaen issued summon orders for 10 people most of whom are youth democracy activists, ordering them to report to the 23rd Military Circle in the province on 11 July after the police concluded to press charges against them and submit the case file to the military prosecutor.

The 10 are accused of violating the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO)’s Head Order No. 3/2015, the junta’s political gathering ban of five or more persons, for participating in the public discussion about the 2017 Constitution called ‘Talk for Freedom’ held at Khon Kaen University on 31 July 2016.

If found guilty, the 11 could face up to one year in prison, a 20,000 baht fine, or both.

The 11 are: 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 Democracy Restoration Group (DRG), Panupong Sritananuwat and Akhom Sributta, activists from Dao Din Group, Jatuphat ‘Pai Dao Din’ Boonpattararaksa, Narongrit Uppachan, Nattaporn Ajharn, an environmental activist, Duangthip Khanrit and Niranut Niamsap, staff of the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), and another person who requested anonymity.

Out of the 11, Rangsiman Rome, refused to acknowledge the charge, reasoning that the junta’s order is unlawful.

The police later allowed the accused to postpone reporting themselves to 31 July as most of them requested so.

According to TLHR, since the 2014 coup d’état at least 242 people were charged with allegedly violating the junta’s political gathering ban. This does not include 212 people accused of breaching the controversial Referendum Act, which prevented people from criticising the draft 2017 constitution before the referendum on 7 August 2016.

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