Journalist among 39 summoned for pro-election protest

Among the 39 individuals who have been summoned for joining the anti-junta protest on Saturday is at least one journalist from Khaosod newspaper. 
 
Khaosod journalist Noppakow Kongsuwan told Prachatai that he was at the protest at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, Siam Square, on Saturday in his capacity as a journalist. He did not speak or help to organise the event. But he is facing a charge of joining a public assembly within 150 metres of a royal site, a violation of Article 7 of the 2015 Public Assembly Act. If found guilty, he will be sentenced to up to six months in prison, a fine of up to 10,000 baht, or both. 
 
The Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, Siam Square, is near Sra Pathum Palace, the residence of Princess Sirindhorn. The protesters called for the junta to immediately hold a general election and step down. 
 
Noppakow, who has an activist background, observed that the police might press charges against him because he personally knows some of the protest leaders. But he said this would be insufficient grounds for prosecuting him. He added that he did not make his journalist card visible during the protest because he had lost his wallet. 
 
Apart from Noppakow, many low-profile individuals have been charged merely for joining the protest. The event was organised by well-known pro-democracy activists Rangsiman Rome, Ekkachai Hongkangwan and Anon Nampa.
 
 
Pro-democracy activist Rangsiman Rome gives a speech during the protest during the Saturday rally
 
Police summon the 39 for 8 February 
 
The police earlier summoned the pro-election protesters to report to Pathumwan Police Station today (2 February). Pawinee Chumsri, from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, represented the 39 at a meeting with the police today. Pawinee stated that the 39 wished to postpone the meeting to 8 February so that they could prepare bail. In the end, the police compromised by reissuing the summons, requiring the 39 individuals to report on 8 February. 
 
Silence campaign against junta’s summons of 39 pro-election protesters
 
On Thursday, 1 February 2018, four activists held a symbolic “National Anthem of Silence” campaign at the Siam Paragon shopping mall to protest the junta’s summons of 39 people who joined last weekend’s political activity demanding an election. The four are also among the 39.
 
The four merely stood silently and covered their mouths with tape, symbolising the climate of fear and censorship under the junta regime. The event lasted for 30 minutes with no reports of arrests or intimidation by the authorities.
 
Nutta Mahattana, who led the activity, told the media that the participants in the pro-election campaign were merely exercising their rights and thus should not have been prosecuted.