The junta has filed charges against eight organisers of the civil rights march from Bangkok to Khon Kaen for violating the junta’s ban on public assembly.
On 31 January 20198, eight organisers of We Walk, A Walk for Friendship reported to Khlong Luang Police Station, Pathum Thani Province, to hear the accusation against them. A soldier acting on behalf of the junta filed charges against the eight for violating the Head of National Peace and Council Order (NCPO) Order 3/2015, the junta’s ban on public gathering of five people or more.
The prosecuted organisers are Lertsak Kumkongsak, a community rights activist; Nimit Tienudom and Somchai Krachangsaeng from the Aids Access Foundation; Nuchanart Thaenthong and Jumnong Nuphan from the Four Regions Slum Network; Sangsiri Teemanka, a leader of People's Network for Welfare; Ubon Yoowa from the Sustainable Agriculture Foundation; and Anuson Unno, Dean of the Sociology and Anthropology Faculty of Thammasat University. They denied all accusations.
About 200 members of the People Go network and scholars from the Thai Academic Network for Civil Rights gathered in front of the police station to show solidarity with the organisers, but the authorities blocked them from going inside the building. Various western embassies and international human rights organisations also sent representatives to observe the summons.
"I can't see what is illegal about people walking. It is freedom of movement, freedom of expression. So I want to find out from the police about this summon," Alexander Nowak from the Embassy of Germany told the media
The We Walk march kicked off at Thammasat University’s Rangsit campus on 20 January with four main issues: the right to universal health care, the rights of farmers, community and environmental rights, and the Constitution.
Since the beginning, the rally has faced repeated obstruction by the police and military. On the first day, the authorities blocked the activists from exiting Thammasat University, claiming the march violated the junta’s ban on public gatherings of five people or more. The protesters then divided into groups of four people and marched from the university group by group.
A day later, Ayutthaya police officers searched their supply trucks and briefly detained four protesters for interrogation. The protesters had to start the march earlier than planned after the authorities pressured an Ayutthaya temple which sheltered them. The organisers of the civil rights march are also facing prosecution for violating the junta’s ban on public assembly.