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Anti-coup students 'won't seek bail'

Jul 03. 2015
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THE 14 detained anti-coup students will not seek bail despite an overture by the National Security Council and National Reform Council to change their minds, Kritsadang Nutcharas, a representative of the students’ legal team, said. 
The lawyer said the students – members of the New Democracy Movement – rejected the legitimacy and authority of the Military Court, which ordered their detention on June 26. The move came as Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva called for the government to reveal the names of the people who they claimed were behind the students. 
Abhisit said the government should recognise that there were people who opposed the military regime with honest intentions and he didn’t want to see people being pushed to the “other side”.
In a related development, London-based Amnesty Interna-tional has launched an urgent action campaign, calling for members worldwide to write a letter to Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha to demand the immediate and unconditional release of the 14. 
AI classified the 14 as prisoners of conscience. 
Kritsadang said the students “are willing to trade their freedom because they believe that even when they are outside [on the streets], they are not free”. 
The students’ trial is due to continue in the Military Court on Tuesday and they have said they want the hearing conducted publicly and not in secret like on June 26, when the trial was held late at night, he said.
“If this doesn’t happen, the 14 students will resort to some measures against the trial,” he said, without elaborating. 
He said the students would object to any order to detain them for a second round.
They had expressed concerns about police and soldiers “visiting” their families.
“The students asked me to say that their parents had raised them well, provided them with an education and everything, and had nothing to do with their fight for liberty and democracy,” he said. “They said they did everything themselves. Their parents had nothing to do with it. Please don’t drag them into it.”
Among those who received visits by police and military officers were university lecturers who signed their names in support of the students. 
Thammasat University political scientist Pongkwan Sawasdipakdi said the move by the authorities had led to more academics feeling like they must support the students and none of the academics who signed their names had backed down.
Meanwhile, family members of those detained explained the situation to the National Human Rights Commission and insisted the students were innocent.
Wiboon Boonpatararaksa, father of detainee Jatupat Boonpatararaksa, said his son and other Dao Din members, a group that is part of NDM, had worked with locals in the Northeast for many years and that explained how they ended up campaigning against the coup.
“They were working to help the locals on one case. Then one day the coup was staged and they were prohibited from going into the village to help the locals,” he said. 
“That’s how the campaign started out. They got frustrated at being constrained. So, [they] came out to protest against the coup.” 
Wiboon insisted that no political groups were behind the students.
Locals from different rural areas in the Northeast also shared stories about the Dao Din students.
“The students came to us and we worked together in fighting for our community rights against the state and big companies which obtained concessions to do activities in our community which affected the environment and our health. They had nothing to do with politics,” said Kannika Laopim, a representative of Dongmoon Conservation Group in Kalasin.
Many locals said they had been visited by soldiers and officials, who told them not get involved with the students or show support for them.
NHRC commissioner Niran Pitakwatchara said soldiers and officials involved would be invited to share their side of the story with the commission on Wednesday.

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