Local rice wine producer harassed by officials over Move Forward Party event

A local rice wine producer in Buriram has been harassed by a local subdistrict chief and men claiming to be police officers for allowing the Move Forward Party (MFP) to organize an event at a location she owns, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) said.

Tanakorn Sammasako, a former MFP MP candidate for Buriram’s 5th constituency, told TLHR that Amara (last name withheld), a local rice wine producer in Buriram’s Ban Mai Chaiyaphot District, was visited three times by officials, after it was announced that MFP will be organizing an event as part of its member relations project at a location she owned on Sunday (24 September).

Tanakorn said that last month, the Deputy Chief Executive of the Thonglang Subdistrict Administrative Organization visited Amara at home and threatened her, saying that the police knew about the event. This made her feel unsafe.

Two weeks ago, the Thonglang subdistrict chief visited Amara at home and asked her what event she was organizing and how many people would be joining. In the evening of 19 September, 2 men claiming to be police officers from Ban Mai Chaiyaphot Police Station came to Amara’s house. They took pictures of her and told her that they have visited her house several times, but have never spoken to her. Amara called Tanakorn and had him speak to the two men to explain that the event was a normal event a political party would organize to inform the public.

According to TLHR, Tanakorn has spoken to officers at Ban Mai Chaiyaphot Police Station about the event, and asked them not to visit anyone involved with the member relations project again. On 20 September, he went to the police station to inform the police of the harassment against Amara. He brought documents relating to the project and told them not to visit Amara at home again. He also asked that they inform him in advance if they want to observe the event, and that they must be in uniform if they do so.

Tanakorn told TLHR that no one involved in previous events he organized faced such a level of harassment from state officials, especially from the local administration, although some have been visited by investigation officers looking for information. He feels that local government agencies are becoming more active in suppressing political gatherings.

The 24 September event is part of MFP’s member relations project, funded by the Fund For Development of Political Parties under the Election Commission. Events often involve seminars, panel discussions, and gatherings for party members. The 24 September event focuses on issues facing local small-scale breweries, legal limitations, and proposed amendments to alcohol productions laws. Amara, a producer of traditional alcoholic products, will also be speaking at the event.

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