As the referendum on the military’s draft charter approaches, the junta has detected an uptick in red shirt and Puea Thai Party activity, and has reacted predictably: repression.
The uptick involves the official red shirts, the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, joining the referendum and urging a big turnout while setting up a center to monitor referendum fraud, and Yingluck Shinawatra apparently on the stump and willing to be (mildly) critical of the military regime. (One fizz related to her travels was a Nok Air pilot texting his hatred for Yingluck as she was on the plane he was to fly, threatening/joking to bring the plane down. His texts break the law. Let’s see if the law is enforced.)
The Bangkok Post reports that “Yingluck has been annoying authorities for the past several weeks by touring provinces and drawing huge crowds of admirers in the North and Northeast, allegedly to celebrate reaching 5 million followers on her Facebook account.”
The easily spooked junta, like Pavlov’s dogs, has reacted as expected and as programmed. Cranky deputy junta boss, the dumpy General Prawit Wongsuwan is reported at Prachatai as declaring that “the red shirt’s referendum watch campaign was not allowed since it was under the responsibility of existing government agencies.” He also demanded that the red shirts “stop inviting international organization[s] to participate in the August referendum watch.”
The deputy junta head ranted that the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship that “organizations including the Election Commission of Thailand (ECT) and the National Anti-Corruption Commission, [are] in charge of the issue.” He means the anti-election Election Commission. He was visibly angry, virtually shouting when he threatened:
Those who are uninvolved should not mess up things and should not drag foreign organization into the country. It is a domestic issue. The country is moving forward so we should not impede each other…. Stop it, I beg you. No more. If you’re stubborn, you might face a legal prosecution.
Following up on these threats, Prachatai reports that the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission A TV station has voted “to revoke the broadcast licence of Peace TV, a TV station run by [red shirt leader] Jatuporn Prompan…”. It is reported that “the revocation is due to three TV programs which carried contents that breach the NCPO Announcement No. 97/2014 and 103/2014, which prohibits dissemination of content that instigates violence and misleads the public. However, the actual content leading to the revocation remains unreported.”
Update: The Bangkok Post reports that military thugs have moved to take down UDD banner “promoting their new anti-referendum fraud centre…” in Lampang. The banner read: “Referendum must not be derailed. No fraud. UDD’s centre for fighting fraud in the Aug 7 referendum.” We guess that the army thugs are acting illegally. The military junta will say everything it does is “legal,” but the fact is that many of its actions are only “legal” because, as a court explained, the junta grabbed state power.