Soldiers detain red shirt near Dhammakaya temple

Soldiers and security officers have detained a member of an anti-establishment red shirt group at a market close to the Dhammakaya temple and told him not to enter the area again or risk imprisonment.  

On 5 March 2017, officers of the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) and soldiers apprehended Anurak Jentawanit, a leader of a red shirt group called ‘Ford Red Path’ at Klang Khlong Luang market in Pathum Thani Province.

The market is close to the Dhammakaya temple and is currently used by Dhammakaya monks and disciples as a gathering point.

During interrogation, a DSI officer told Anurak that he cannot enter the area again as the junta invoked its absolute power under Section 44 of the Interim Charter to declare Dhammakaya temple a restricted area.

The officer threatened him with imprisonment for up to one year or a 20,000 baht fine or both if he violates the order.

Anurak said that he is not a disciple of the Dhammakaya temple, but was there only to give alms to the monks as a Buddhist and to give out free T-shirts with the message “Do not harm monks”, adding that he did not come to the area as a red-shirt activist.

“I’m a former pro-democracy activist and I would like to ask the DSI if giving food to monks is illegal,” said Anurak.

In 2016, Anurak and other members of his red shirt group were harassed by thugs and military officers several times for campaigning against the junta’s draft constitution prior to the public referendum on the draft on 7 August 2016.

Anurak Jentawanit detained at Phayathai Police Station after campaigning against the junta’s draft constitution on 6 March 2017 (file photo)

Since 2007, Prachatai English has been covering underreported issues in Thailand, especially about democratization and human rights, despite the risk and pressure from the law and the authorities. However, with only 2 full-time reporters and increasing annual operating costs, keeping our work going is a challenge. Your support will ensure we stay a professional media source and be able to expand our team to meet the challenges and deliver timely and in-depth reporting.

• Simple steps to support Prachatai English

1. Bank transfer to account “โครงการหนังสือพิมพ์อินเทอร์เน็ต ประชาไท” or “Prachatai Online Newspaper” 091-0-21689-4, Krungthai Bank

2. Or, Transfer money via Paypal, to e-mail address: [email protected], please leave a comment on the transaction as “For Prachatai English”