Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Senators warn of street protests if Ja New’s attackers go free

Jul 01. 2019
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By The Nation

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Senators on Monday added to mounting pressure on authorities to catch the culprits behind last Friday's assault of anti-junta activist Sirawit Serithiwat, warning that the case could be exploited for political advantage.

Members of the upper house called on the government to strongly reject widespread accusations in the social media that it was behind the brutal attack, in order to prevent the incident from being used to incite political conflict.

Senator Jetn Sirathranont said that he and fellow members would file for a parliamentary investigation into the incident if the authorities made no progress.

"A parliamentary channel should be used to find a way out. I don't want this matter to be used as a political move to ignite street demonstrations," he said at the TOT Auditorium where Parliament is temporarily based.

Sirawit, who is better known as "Ja New" (Sergeant New), was left severely injured with a broken nose and fractured eye socket after four helmeted men arrived on two motorcycles and beat him with sticks around noon last Friday near his home.

Other senators also expressed their concern, asking Royal Thai Police chief Pol General Chakthip Chaijinda, who is also a senator, to speed up efforts to find the culprits.

Senator Seree Suwanpanont said he opposed using violence against anyone, not just political activists.

Fellow Senator Wanchai Sornsiri urged the government to clarify that it was not involved in the attack in order to prevent the matter from being used for political purposes.

"I don't believe the government or the powers-that-be were behind the incident. It's a false notion and harmful to society, the country and even themselves [the accusers]," he said.

Wanchai warned of attempts to "ignite a political fire" against the government by provoking people to take to the streets.

Senator Kamnoon Sithisamarn on Monday called for an upper house debate on how to end the worrying political conflict.

"Parliament can serve as a forum of compromise between groups of power. The goal is to prevent the conflict from expanding into the streets," he said.

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