Political activists taken to jungle for “attitude adjustment” lecture from officials

PHOTO: Thai PBS World

Anti-government protesters in the northern province of Phitsanulok say they were detained by plain clothes officials and taken to a jungle where they were questioned and made to listen to an “attitude adjustment” lecture. The incident is alleged to have taken place hours before a planned protest.

The local protest group, known as Brave Phitsanulok Will Not Bow to Dictators, say 5 of its members were driven to the jungle, while a sixth person was interrogated at her student dorm. All members were searched and had their phones confiscated. According to a statement released by the group, their requests to contact family and friends fell on deaf ears.

“We knew we were going to disappear, so we asked to contact our friends and family. We were not allowed, but they said that if we cooperated, they would not use force. After all, we were fellow Phitsanolokians.”

The 5 say they were subsequently placed into separate trucks and driven to a house in the jungle, where they were questioned on how the group was funded and who their supporters were. It’s understood that officials simultaneously visited a female group member at her dorm room and tried to pressure her into refraining from any further protest action against the government.

The group describes the lecture in the jungle as bizarre, saying officials referred to the history of the monarchy, as well as alluding to the supernatural forces of Phitsanulok. They say that after the lecture, they were released without any charges being brought against them.

“They talked about many Thai kings and how they were related to Phitsanulok, what good deeds they did for the country, as well as the sacredness of various supernatural spirits in the province. They told many other illogical, unprovable myths about the place where we were going to hold the protest at as well.”

However, a local police chief dismisses the group’s claim.

“It’s all fabricated news. It’s all false news. The protest went on as usual, but only about 10 people came.”

Meanwhile, Yaowalak Anuphan, from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, says she is assisting the activists with any legal action they may wish to take as a result of being unlawfully detained.

Such detentions have been a common occurrence since the 2014 military coup. State officials have abducted and interrogated pro-democracy activists several times in the past, in what critics see as a deliberate act of intimidation.

SOURCE: Khaosod English

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Maya Taylor

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