Protecting the “referendum”

26 09 2017

A few days ago we posted on the case of Piyarat Chongthep who, wearing a No Coup t-shirt, ripped his ballot in half while shouting “Down with Dictatorship, Long Live Democracy.” This was at a Bangkok polling booth when the junta managed, directed and controlled referendum on the military dictatorship’s constitution took place.

He faced from one to 10 years in jail when he faced court earlier today. Prachatai reports on the outcome of that appearance.

Interestingly, the court “acquitted him of the offence under the Public Referendum Act in which he was accused of obstructing the referendum, reasoning that the action of the accused was peaceful.” As he pleaded guilty to three other charges, his sentence was halved and then suspended.

Similar cases against “Jirawat Aekakkaranuwat and Thongtham Kaewpanpruek, were also acquitted and were not given any jail term or fine.”

That might be a reasonable outcome, yet it stands in stark contrast to the 2010 case of yellow-shirted Chulalongkorn University political science lecturer Chaiyan Chaiyaporn, who was acquitted on a technicality after he tore up ballot papers in 2006.

The message seems to be that, whenever the junta decides to hold its “election,” civil disobedience is to be illegal.


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