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Thai authorities have detained a nationalist in Isaan, northeastern Thailand, over a ‘no vote’ campaign. Meanwhile, another junta opponent in the north has been imprisoned over leaflets campaigning against the junta-sponsored draft charter.

Kaewsaengbun Thamhaidi, deputy head of a nationalist political group called ‘People’s Peaceful Revolution’, reported on Thursday, 28 July 2016, that the authorities had detained Wichan Phuwihan, a 48-year-old member of the group, at Ubon Ratchathani Prison, after arresting him on Tuesday.

According to the arrest warrant for Wichan, the police accused him of violating the controversial Article 61 of the Public Referendum Act for shouting at people not to turn up for the 7 August referendum on the draft constitution at a market in Phibun Mangsahan District in Ubon Ratchathani Province on Tuesday.

The police also took him to a hospital in the province and forced him to undertake a psychological examination after arresting him.

Wichan will be detained for an initial custody period of 12 days with the possibility of custody being extended.

On the arrest and detention of Wichan, Kaewsaengbun told the media that Wichan did not violate the Referendum Act as the police alleged, but was merely expressing the stand of People’s Peaceful Revolution group towards the junta-sponsored draft constitution.

She added that Wichan thinks that the draft constitution will not bring about a democratic form of governance in the country.

Meanwhile Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) on Thursday reported that Samat Khwanchai, a 63-year-old resident of Chiang Mai, was detained at Chiang Mai Prison after the provincial court remanded him in custody.

Samat was arrested after about 60 police, soldiers and public officials raided his house on 23 July. The authorities searched the house and confiscated hundreds of leaflets that read ‘Dictatorship shall be ruined, Democracy shall triumph: 7 August ‘Vote No’ ’.

According to the arrest warrant, the authorities accused him of violating the controversial Article 61 of the Public Referendum Act for distributing the anti-junta and anti-draft charter leaflets at a parking lot of Panthip Plaza Shopping Mall in Chiang Mai on 21 July.

He attached the leaflets to the windshield wipers of about 10 cars parked at the Mall parking lot.

Under the controversial Article 61 of the Referendum Act, anyone who publishes or distributes content about the draft constitution which deviates from the facts, contains rude and violent language, or threateningly discourages voters from participating in the referendum, could face up to 10 years imprisonment, a fine of up to 200,000 baht and loss of electoral rights for five years.  

Leaflets confiscated from Samat's house in Chiang Mai. They say ‘Dictatorship shall be ruined, Democracy shall triumph: 7 August ‘Vote No’ ’

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