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MBK 39 activists object to sedition charges over public speeches

Feb 08. 2018
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By Wasamon Audjarint
The Nation

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At least two activists from MBK 39 activist group plan to object to their alleged charges of sedition related to speeches made during a pro-election assembly.

Activist Sombat Boonngamanong said on Thursday morning that he and anti-graft activist, Veera Somkwamkid, came to Pathumwan police station to deny police accusations that landed them charges of allegedly breaking the Criminal Code’s Article 116.

The maximum penalty for breaking the law is up to seven years of imprisonment.

The charges were pressed against the two after seven key activists at a recent gathering were accused of allegedly breaking the same law.

“I think that this is authority’s fear of the upcoming event this Saturday,” Sombat said, referring to another assembly to be held near the Democracy Monument on the day.

“I don’t see how that assembly, to be arranged in a flash-mob style without any stage or speaker, could be a threat to security,” he continued, “especially given that it is to emphasise the words of PM General Prayut Chan-o-cha himself that the election should be held by this year’s end.”

He also saw the charges against pro-democracy activists as a power conflict between the junta’s power and the constitution’s endorsement of people’s rights and freedom

“This should be seriously discussed once we are free from these charges,” he said. “This should be clarified by the Constitutional Court.”

Meanwhile, Anon Nampa, a human rights lawyer and member of the MBK 39 group, told The Nation that he has already proposed to postpone reporting to the police until March 7.

Other activists who did not report on February 7 included Rangsiman Rome and Sirawit Seritiwath, who also submitted letters of postponement via their lawyers to the police, Anon said.

Anon reasoned that because he was occupied on Thursday with processing the cases involving his clients, he could not himself report to the police along with the other MBK 39 activists.

Deputy Police Commissioner Srivara Ransibheamanakul said that the police would consider whether to issue a third summons or alternatively, arrest warrants, to the absent activists.

“We have to see whether their reasons to be absent are justified,” he said.

Srivara said the police would propose that any bail requests made by the activists be rejected, should the court decide to detain them temporarily.

“We police just use our rights,” he said “There will be no guarantee that they would not flee if they are released on bails.”

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