Anti-junta youth activist leader to face additional charges

The Thai police plan to file additional charges against a well-known anti-junta youth activist leader over his role in an anti-coup gathering in February 2015.

Sirawit Serithiwat, an anti-junta student activist from Thammasat, who was abducted and reportedly ill-treated by the military earlier this year, posted on Facebook on Thursday, 3 March 2016, that police from Pathumwan Police Station, Bangkok, will file additional charges against him for violating a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which he was forced to signed.

The activist, who has become a poster-child of pro-democracy political activities, was forced to sign an MoU by the military promising not to participate in any political activity after he led a group of anti-coup protesters to symbolically eat sandwiches against the coup-makers on 22 June 2014 in central Bangkok.

He posted that, at that time, he was arrested in the late afternoon and taken to the sports centre of the Thai Army Club on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road, Bangkok, where he was interrogated by officers until 1 am the next day.

Despite the MoU, Sirawit was one of the key leaders of an anti-junta gathering held on 14 February 2015 called ‘Luek Tang Ti Lak’ (the stolen election) in which he and several other activists were charged with violating the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Order 7/2014, a ban on political gatherings of five or more persons.

Sirawit added that Col Burin Thongprapai, from the military Judge Advocate General’s Department, found that he had signed the MoU at that time and pressed additional charges against him.

“If they have the strength, then just let them sue me. I still stand firm against the tyrants of the dictatorial NCPO [National Council for Peace and Order],” Sirawit wrote on his Facebook post.

He added that he was forced to sign many MoUs with the authorities, but they will not deter him from continuing with political activities against the regime.

Since the 2014 coup d’état, Sirawit has been repeatedly arrested by the military. He currently faces several charges for participating in various political pro-democracy activities outlawed by the military regime.

On 20 January 2016, Sirawit was abducted by eight military officers in the presence of many other people at the Rangsit Campus of Thammasat University in Bangkok. The military officers then took him to a police station in the early hours of the next day where he was detained overnight.

The activist reported then that the military officers who abducted him covered his head and took him into the bushes in an unidentified area.

“After I was taken into a vehicle, my head was covered and I was blindfolded with a rubber band, so I couldn’t see anything. I sensed that I was driven around for a long distance with many twists and turns until the vehicle stopped in the bushes in an unidentified area. I was dragged into the bushes and forced to kneel down. When I resisted they kicked me,” said Sirawit in a video clip posted by New Democracy Movement (NDM).

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