NCPO pressures political opposition; summons Thanathorn on sedition charge

Col Burin Thongprapai, the NCPO’s legal officer, has filed sedition charges against Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, leader of the Future Forward Party (FFP). Meanwhile, FFP Secretary-General Piyabutr Saengkanokkul has also received a summons to report as a witness in the case on the FFP statement on the dissolution of the Thai Raksa Chart Party (TRC). 

Piyabutr Sangkanokkul (left) and Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit (right)

This morning (3 April), Thanathorn posted on his Facebook page that he has been summoned by the police to answer a sedition charge and has to report to Pathumwan Police Station at 10:00 on 6 April.

The summons says that Thanathorn has been accused of “making an appearance to the public by words, writings, or any other means which is not an act within the purpose of the Constitution or for expressing an honest opinion or criticism in order to raise unrest and disaffection amongst the people in a manner likely to cause disturbance in the country or to cause the people to transgress the laws of the country” and of “assisting another person who commits or is alleged of having committed an offence which is not a petty offence so that such person may not be punished by giving him lodging, by hiding, or by assisting him by any means so that he may not be arrested.” Both of these charges together may result in a prison sentence of up to 9 years, under Article 116 and Article 189 of the Criminal Code.

The summons names the accuser as Col Burin Thongprapai, the NCPO’s legal officer, but does not refer to any particular act of alleged sedition.

Thanathorn posted on his Facebook page that he will report to the police as ordered to prove his innocence and to prove that the judicial process in Thailand will not become a tool of the dictatorship.

“It is clear that the old political game didn’t stop after the election. Instead, it intensifies, because they are afraid of Future Forward,” Thanathorn posted on Facebook. “They are afraid of our victory, which was beyond the expectations of many, afraid of the fact that the kind of politics which focuses on policies, ideals, and creating faith has received the people’s support without the need for money or influence. They are afraid of the fact that there are almost 6.3 million people who truly support Future Forward.”

“I have neither law nor state power on my side. I don’t have Section 44. I don’t have weapons or prisons I can use to get rid of any opposition. But I believe that I have millions of people who love justice on my side, who are ready to show that they won’t tolerate the dark power that wants to destroy Future Forward.”

Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, the FFP Secretary-General, also received a summons to report to the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD) at 13.00 today (3 April), as a witness in the case about the FFP’s statement on the dissolution of the Thai Raksa Chart Party (TRC), which he read on a Facebook live broadcast. Piyabutr said that he only received the summons before noon today, and he had his lawyer inform the inquiry official to move the date.

“After the election, the Future Forward Party has received the trust of the 6.2 million people who voted for us. Throughout the week, we have been calling for the ECT to publish the vote count in each polling station. But instead, we now have a collection of summonses,” Piyabutr posted on his Facebook page.

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During the election campaign period, the FFP was hit with several legal prosecutions. Thanathorn and two other party leaders were charged under Section 14 (2) of the Computer Crime Act for criticizing the NCPO in a Facebook Live broadcast. The decision whether to indict the three FFP leaders has now been delayed until 26 April. Lt Gen Pongsakorn Rodchompoo, the FFP Deputy Leader, is also being prosecuted by the TSCD for sharing fake news about Gen Prawit Wongsuwan. The NCPO has also filed a complaint with the TCSD against the FFP website administrator and other relevant personnel for contempt of court, after a video clip of the statement on the dissolution of TRC party, read by Piyabutr, was shared on the website.