Anti-lese majeste law lecturer released


– Thailand news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Key Nitirat member freed on condition he stays in country
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Thammasat law lecturer Worachet Pakeerut, a leading member of the Nitirat group, was released yesterday on Bt20,000 bail with the condition of not joining in any political movement or going abroad.

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Police yesterday questioned the legal expert, known for his stance against the lese majeste law and the current martial law. A military court ordered his initial detention for 12 days after he failed to report himself in time after being summoned twice by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).

Worachet appeared to be in good spirits after the questioning. He told the media he turned himself in on Monday by arrangement and was not arrested, as reported by some media.

After his name appeared on the summons list for a second time, on June 10, Worachet’s wife Patcharin reported to the NCPO on his behalf to inform it that he was under treatment abroad and would report later. He returned from Hong Kong on Monday. Colonel Songwit Noonpakdee, officer in command of the 11th Infantry Regiment, and Patcharin greeted him at Don Meuang International Airport.

Worachet has many supporters and news of his detention created a widespread stir on social-media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Separately, Human Rights Watch yesterday urged the Thai military authorities immediately to provide information about the whereabouts of red-shirt activist Kritsuda Khunasen, who was reportedly arrested by soldiers on May 28.

Instead of revealing her place of detention, the junta included her name on a June 17 list of people summoned to report to the authorities by June 18 or face arrest, HRW said in a statement.

Prominent red shirt missing

Soldiers arrested Kritsuda in Chon Buri province, but the military authorities have declined to disclose any information about her detention or provide any evidence that she has been released, raising concerns for her safety, HRW said.

Instead, the military has denied any knowledge of her whereabouts despite television footage showing that she was arrested and taken away by soldiers from the 14th Military Circle, according to HRW.

“The Thai military should put to rest fears that Kritsuda has been forcibly disappeared by immediately disclosing her location and allowing access to a doctor and a lawyer,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at HRW.

“Concerned governments should demand that Thailand’s military authorities immediately explain what has happened to her and ensure her safety,” Adams added.

Kritsuda is an activist with the red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD).

She has been instrumental in a campaign to provide legal and humanitarian assistance to UDD members and supporters affected by political violence in 2010, HRW said.

Since Kritsuda’s arrest, her family and Thailand’s National Human Rights Commission have tried unsuccessfully to locate her, HRW said.

NCPO deputy spokesman Werachon Sukondhapatipak said he had no information about the matter at the moment. However, he had learned that a delegation from Human Rights Watch met with NCPO representatives yesterday evening.

Earlier, NCPO spokesman Winthai Suvari rebutted criticism of the junta’s reconciliation plan by John Sifton, an Asia advocacy director specialising in South and Southeast Asia at HRW.

Winthai said outsiders like Sifton might have lacked rounded information, adding that the NCPO wanted to ensure the safety of Thai people by putting an end to violence related to political expression.

Winthai’s reaction was not a direct response to HRW’s criticism of the detention of Kritsuda.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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