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Watana insists on right to express his opinion


Pheu Thai politician taken in for fourth "Attitude Adjustment"

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A PROMINENT Pheu Thai politician who has confronted the junta by lodging a complaint to the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon alleging human rights abuses is standing firm in his opposition to the charter draft, saying he will vote “No” in the referendum regardless of being subjected to “attitude adjustment” sessions. 
Former commerce minister Watana Muangsook also plans to lodge the same complaint with about 20 relevant agencies, including European Union bodies and the United States Embassy in Bangkok, claiming the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO)’s “attitude adjustment” sessions infringe |on human rights, party spokeswoman Sunisa Lertpakawat said yesterday. 
The NCPO summoned Watana yesterday to the 11th Military Circle for his fourth round of attitude adjustment following his Facebook message saying “vote no” on the draft, which was posted last Wednesday. 
Chaturon Chaisang, a key Pheu Thai member, said he had talked to embassy representatives from Switzerland, Norway and Canada who also visited the military base and he quoted them as saying they were concerned about human rights infringements in Thailand. 
Chaturon added that the embassy representatives also said that limiting individuals’ rights to voice opinions would also limit people’s rights to receive information and bring disadvantages during the referendum. 
Watana was detained for allegedly violating Article 44 of the interim charter and NCPO order 13/2016 banning activities considered to be a threat to the state, according a report. 
The politician has said he has a right to express his opinions about the draft, adding that he could campaign against it as a matter of freedom of expression regardless of whether the junta supported it. 
He said that the NCPO had not abided by Section 4 of the interim constitution or Article 19 of the UN General Assembly’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights because opponents to the draft were not allowed to voice their opinions in public. 
According to Watana’s messages on Facebook, military authorities planned to detain him on Wednesday afternoon at his home in Prawet in Bangkok but he asked them to postpone this until Monday because he wanted to spend |the Songkran break outside the capital. 
Military officers visited his residence on Thursday to arrest him but could not find him. 
Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan remained firm on arresting Watana, saying that he would be detained if he spoke out. 
“Although [Watana] rejects the draft, he should rather keep it in his mind. As I said before, it’s not time to speak out,” Prawit said. 
The deputy prime minister said the incident had nothing to do with the non-government group Human Rights Watch because it did not constitute an abuse of rights.
Pheu Thai Party called yesterday on the NCPO to immediately release Watana, saying he had done nothing wrong and was just expressing his opinion in line with normal laws.
 

Published : April 19, 2016

By : JUTHATHIP LUCKSANAWONG, WATT