5 students, 3 human rights defenders charged with breaching junta order

A military court has accepted a case against eight individuals who participated in seminar last year on the junta-backed constitution. Three are human rights defenders who came merely to observe the event. 
 
On 17 October 2017, Khon Kaen Military Court accepted a case against five student activists and three human rights defenders. The eight include local student activists, Jatuphat Boonpattaraksa, Panupong Sithananuwat, Akhom Sibutta, Chatthai Noi-unsaen and Narongrit Uppachan; two staff of Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), Duangthip Khanrit, Niranut Niamsap; and a local activist, Nattaporn Artharn.
 
Jatuphat, however, did not appear in court as he is currently serving a prison term for lèse-majesté.
 
The eight defendants were charged with violating the NCPO Head’s Order No. 3/2015, the junta’s ban on public gathering of five people or more, after the students held a “Talk for Freedom” seminar to discuss the junta-backed constitution just before the 2016 Constitutional Referendum. 
 
After accepting the case, the court remanded in custody the 7 defendants present, but later granted them bail after their lawyer Sasinan Thamnithinan offered the court 10,000 baht surety for each individual.
 
This is the first case where the authorities have pressed charges against those merely observing an anti-junta seminar. Duangthip and Niranut were at the seminar to observe and record human rights violations. However, they were accused of the same offence as the event’s organizers. 
 
 
Security officers disrupted the seminar on 31 July 2016 (Photo from TLHR)