Junta files more charges against pro-election MBK 39

A network of Thai scholars has launched a fundraising campaign to seek two million baht to bail the 39 pro-election protesters. The junta has also filed another charge against them of violating the ban on political gatherings.
 
On 6 February 2018, Nuttha Mahattana, one of the protesters, revealed that the group has to find over 2,000,000 baht as bail for the 39. Although 30 of them were not leaders of the activity, they each might have to find 60,000 baht as surety. 
 
The cost of bail increased after Col Burin Thongprapai, acting on behalf of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), filed an additional charge against the protesters of violating NCPO Head Order 3/2015, the junta’s ban on the political gatherings of five people or more. Previously, the police accused the 39 of joining a public assembly within 150 meters of a royal site, a violation of Article 7 of the 2015 Public Assembly Act.  
 
Nuttha added that the protesters are even more concerned after Pol Gen Srivara Ransibrahmanakul, the Royal Thai Police Deputy Commissioner, told the media that the police would seek the court’s permission to detain them immediately after they report to Pathumwan Police Station, Bangkok, on 8 February. 
 
Therefore, the group has cooperated with the Thai Academic Network for Civil Rights (TANCR) in seeking bail and guarantors. The TANRC has already recruited enough volunteer scholars to offer their academic positions as surety for the 39, but money for bail is still needed. She also encouraged the public to donate via bank account 264-271845-1, Siam Commercial Bank, account name Chalita Bundhuwong and/or Ida Arunwong na Ayuthaya. 
 
Nuttha initially planned to hold a press briefing on the fundraising campaign at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand (FCCT), but the police pressured the club manager into refusing to host the briefing. She instead held the press conference in the parking lot of the building. 
 
On 27 January, over 100 people gathered at the skywalk near MBK department store in a protest urging the junta to step down and stop postponing the election. Apart from high-profile pro-democracy activists such as Rangsiman Rome, Ekkachai Hongkangwan and Anon Nampa, the police also summoned journalists and low-profile participants who merely observed the event. 
 
The examples are Aomtip Kerdplanant, Kan Sangthong, Chulalongkorn University students; Khaosod journalist Noppakow Kongsuwan; and Sa-nguan Khumrungroj, a freelance journalist. The 39 later became known as the MBK 39.
 
The police earlier summoned the MBK 39 to report to Pathumwan Police Station on 2 February. Pawinee Chumsri, from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, represented the 39 at a meeting with the police and 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, with the additional charge of violating the junta's order.
 
Nine well-known activists, including Nuttha and Rangsiman, also face charges of sedition and leading the protest.
 
 
Nuttha at the press briefing
 
 
Pro-democracy activist Rangsiman Rome gives a speech during the protest