Pheu Thai politicians face multiple charges for criticising junta

Citing the ban on political activities, the junta has pressed charges against eight Pheu Thai politicians for attacking the junta administration.
 
On 18 May 2018, Col Burin Thongprapai and Maj Gen Wijarn Jodtaeng, acting on behalf of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), filed charges against eight Pheu Thai politicians after they attacked the NCPO administration at a press briefing on Thursday. 
 
The eight include Watana Muangsook, Chaturon Chaisang, Noppadon Pattama, Chaikasem Nitisiri, Phumtham Wechayachai, Pol Maj Gen Viroj Pao-In and Kittiratt Na-Ranong. They were accused of violating the Computer Crimes Act, the sedition law and NCPO Orders No. 3/2015, the junta’s ban on public gatherings of five people or more, and No. 57/2014, which bans parties from conducting political activities.
 
According to spokesperson of the NCPO Maj-Gen Piyapong Klinpan, the NCPO decided to file charges against them because the party hosted the event despite warnings from the authorities.
 
“On 17 May, police officers visited Pheu Thai Party to explain to the party leaders, who were gathering for the press briefing and to make them understand. The NCPO has not yet allowed them to organize political activities. The police officers told them what would happen, but the party leaders still insisted on getting on stage together for the press briefing. You can see that the police didn’t let them to do that, but the leaders refused to give up the activity, so the NCPO has to follow the law,” Piyapong told the media.
 
The Pheu Thai politicians held the press briefing to mark the fourth anniversary of the 2014 coup, and criticised the junta’s political performance during the past four years. Before they began, however, the police asked to observe the event and warned the politicians that the briefing might constitute a violation of the junta’s orders. 
 
The party insisted on continuing with the event but reduced the number of panel speakers from seven to three, Chusak, Watana and Chaturon, to avoid being prosecuted for violating the junta’s ban on public gatherings of five people or more. 
 
The politicians discussed the “Four Years of Failures” under the NCPO regime. They pointed out that the military had failed to fulfil the promises it gave to the people when it staged the 2014 coup, including the pledges to solve political conflicts, eliminate corruption, restore democracy, protect human rights and handle the country’s economy, said the politicians. 
 
“What the NCPO and the NCPO leader have done during the past four years is the use of complete totalitarian power to maintain themselves and their lot in power as long as possible,” read the statement by Pheu Thai. “The NCPO wants to create an authoritarian state by using the bureaucratic system as a mechanism to sabotage civil society and political parties.” 
 
 
Police officers warn Pheu Thai politicians to cancel to press briefing (Photo from Facebook)