This military dictatorship has established a pattern of threat to repress.
In its early days, the military regime arrested hundreds and directly threatened thousands more, the latter mainly in the countryside. That level of mass repression is costly in political terms and a strategy emerged of arresting or high-profile threatening one activist as a way of threatening and repressing similar activists.
One high-profile example was Jatuphat Boonpattaraksa. He was charged with lese majeste and jailed for sharing a BBC Thai story that thousands of others had also shared. Yet the regime went after Jatuphat because he is an activist with links to other activists, several causes and relatively poor villagers.
Police in Bangkok “detained the New Democracy Movement member on Tao Nao Road near the Oct 14 Memorial, where he was to attend a fund-raising event organised by the group to help political prisoners.”
Yet it seems that it was not this particular event that caused an “arrest warrant for him and 12 other activists for launching a campaign for voters in the area to throw out the draft charter in the referendum held on Aug 7, 2016” was suddenly activated.
Rangsiman expects to be taken before a military tribunal.
He has stated that he “believes the arrest was ordered because he was going to petition the military government to disclose information about the deal it struck with China allowing it to build a high-speed rail connection between Bangkok and Korat.”
Now all those who have been challenging the military junta’s use of Article 44 to push through the rail project know that they are under threat. As Rangsiman stated, “Now we have to postpone it [the petition], otherwise my friends will risk facing the same fate…”.
Or, they could go ahead and see if they do join Rangsiman in jail and ignore the junta’s strategy of repression by example.