Wed, Dec 16, 2015 - Page 6 News List

Activists call for release of Thai Facebook poster

HOSPITAL MOVE:Security officers took the 25-year-old, who was awaiting an operation, into custody and he is now being held at a military base in Bangkok

Reuters, BANGKOK

Thai activists on Monday demanded the release of a man arrested for sharing an infographic on Facebook detailing alleged graft in an army-built park, saying plainclothes security officers had taken him by force.

Since taking power in a military coup in May last year, the ruling junta has issued directives that have largely stifled dissent and political discussions.

On Sunday, a 25-year-old student, Thanet Anantawong, was taken from a hospital while he awaited an operation, prominent anti-junta activist Siriwat Serithiwat said.

“Plainclothes security officers went to a hospital where Thanet was staying,” Siriwat told reporters outside a criminal court in Bangkok. “I would like the court to release Thanet. He needs medical attention. We are afraid for his life.”

Human Rights Watch yesterday said that authorities should give Thanet immediate medical treatment.

“Thailand’s junta has reached a new level of ruthlessness by snatching an activist from his hospital bed, putting him in military detention, and depriving him of needed medical treatment,” Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.

A junta spokesman declined to comment on the arrest of Thanet, who is being held at Bangkok’s 11th Army Circle military base.

Rajabhakti Park, built in Hua Hin, south of Bangkok and dedicated to the monarchy, has been at the center of allegations of corruption and misspent funds.

A military probe into its finances found no corruption, but graft accusations persist among opposition groups and the media.

Thanet faces charges under Article 116 of Thailand’s criminal code — the equivalent of sedition — as well as under the Computer Crimes Act for allegedly re-posting a diagram on Facebook linking the junta’s leader, Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, and other officials to alleged corruption involving the park.

A second man, Thanakorn Siripaiboon, 27, was arrested on Tuesday last week for sharing posts about government corruption and hitting the “like” button on a post with an image deemed insulting to Thailand’s king, Human Rights Watch said on Saturday.

Thanakorn, a factory worker, on Monday was charged with disparaging the king’s dog by making a “sarcastic” Internet post related to the pet.

The precise insult toward the royal canine was not divulged by the military, his lawyer said.

Thanakorn also faces separate charges of sedition and insulting the king and could face a total of 37 years in prison.

Additional reporting by NY Times News Service

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