39 activists charged for skywalk stunt to urge November election

39 activists charged for skywalk stunt to urge November election

A member of the Young People for Social Democracy Movement attaches a photo of Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon to his face during a performance to pressure him to resign at Sathon-Narathiwat intersection in Bangkok yesterday. Pawat Laopaisarntaksin
A member of the Young People for Social Democracy Movement attaches a photo of Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon to his face during a performance to pressure him to resign at Sathon-Narathiwat intersection in Bangkok yesterday. Pawat Laopaisarntaksin

Police issued a second summons on Tuesday =to 38 of 39 demonstrators who protested on a skywalk near Pathumwan intersection on Jan 27 against a recently announced delay to the upcoming general election.

Deputy police chief Srivara Ransibrahmanakul said all 39 have been charged with illegal assembly after Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha apparently backpedaled on an earlier promise to hold the poll this November.

The demonstrators, who belong to the Democracy Restoration Group (DRG), have until tomorrow to report to the police or warrants will be sought for their arrest, Pol Gen Srivara said.

One man has already turned himself in yesterday, he added.

Meanwhile, the DRG had scheduled a news conference yesterday at the Maneeya Center in Bangkok -- home to the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand (FCCT) -- but it called this off after the police warned them it would violate the junta's ban on public gatherings.

The meeting was led by Nuttaa Mahattana, a television reporter and activist, who later spoke to Thai and foreign reporters outside the building.

"The police contacted the management of the FCCT yesterday. They were worried that a press conference here would breach security laws and constitute an illegal assembly," said Ms Nuttaa, who is among 39 activists.

She said the anti-coup activists were starting to get worn down by the investigation.

Ms Nuttaa said the activists had been charged with several misdemeanours and their bail was set at 60,000 baht each or more.

The combined cost of their bail exceeded 2 million baht which was beyond the reach of most of the protesters, she added.

"The lawyer told us that nine of the 39 are considered leaders and will have to pay upwards of 200,000 baht per person for bail. The other 30 will have to pay 60,000 baht," Ms Nuttaa said.

Veteran journalist Sa-nguan Khumrungroj, one of the demonstrators, described the police action as"humiliating".

"The police visited my 90-year-old parents at midnight to sign documents stating that the summons had been delivered," he said.

"My mother can barely speak, and they had the [gall] to just come in like that," he added.

"I have been harassed for the past four years. I am a news reporter, and I stand by the side of democracy.

"If I can't report the perspective of those who support democracy, it will be considered a cover-up both domestically and internationally."

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