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Activists seek court ruling on junta’s political assembly ban

Feb 21. 2018
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By WASAMON AUDJARINT
THE NATION

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TWO ACTIVISTS yesterday asked the Constitutional Court to rule whether a junta order banning political assemblies violates the Constitution’s endorsement of people’s rights and freedom.

Nuttaa Mahattana and Veera Somkwamkid filed their petition with the court’s 11 judges. 

They are facing charges of allegedly breaking the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Order No 3/2015, which prohibits any political assembly of five or more people.

The order has been the ruling junta’s tool to freeze not only political parties, which have been unable to hold official meetings since the order was issued shortly after the 2014 military coup, but also various public forums, academic seminars and assemblies critical of people in power.

Nuttaa, Veera and 37 other activists, students and journalists were charged after they participated in anti-junta demonstrations on January 27 and February 10, during which they called for the long-delayed election to be held in November, as promised.

Nuttaa said the power gained by the junta due to the coup should be less than the Constitution, which is regarded as the highest law in the country.

She said the charter’s Article 3 stipulates that the country’s sovereignty belongs to the people, Article 4 says that all people should have their rights and freedom equally protected, and Article 5 states that any law or order must not conflict with the Constitution.

Nuttaa also highlighted the charter’s Article 44, which endorses people’s rights to assemble peacefully without weapons. She said people should have their right of assembly to voice dissent against the military-installed government.

“The right to assemble is endorsed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” she said. “Today, with no opposition in the [junta-appointed] legislative assembly and with more restrictions against the press, assembling should be our solution to protect our rights and freedoms.”

Veera said that he does not accept the authority of the coup-makers.

“This petition should clarify the Constitution’s superiority,” he said. “The NCPO order should no longer be above the charter and keep infringing on people’s rights and freedoms.”

Veera said elected governments would be more open to scrutiny rather than the military-installed administration with sweeping power.

The activists both said they still had faith in the justice system despite the current political atmosphere. 

“I have high trust in the court. There should be no reasons to prolong this [junta order] further,” Nuttaa added.

 

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