Thanathorn, Piyabutr, Pannikar accused of sedition

Thanathorn, Piyabutr, Pannikar accused of sedition

Progressive Movement leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit (left), Piyabutr Saengkanokkul (centre) and Pannikar Wanich (right) talk to reporters after hearing sedition charges against them at Phaya Thai police station in Bangkok on Thursday. (Piyabutr Saengkanokkul Facebook)
Progressive Movement leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit (left), Piyabutr Saengkanokkul (centre) and Pannikar Wanich (right) talk to reporters after hearing sedition charges against them at Phaya Thai police station in Bangkok on Thursday. (Piyabutr Saengkanokkul Facebook)

Three Progressive Movement leaders have met Phaya Thai police to acknowledge sedition charges filed against them by a former yellow-shirt co-leader.

Suwit Thongprasert, a former monk known as Luang Pu Buddha Issara of the now-defunct People's Democratic Reform Committee, had his lawyer file the complaint, according to Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, one of the accused, who wrote on Facebook on Thursday.

The others who were charged with sedition, which carries a penalty of up to seven years in prison, were Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, former leader of the Future Forward Party, and former party spokesperson Pannikar Wanich.

In his case, Mr Piyabutr said the allegations against him involved posting in social media his academic work, including his lectures, while he taught law at Thammasat University.

Also found offensive were his posts supporting solutions to the ongoing political crisis. He had suggested that the three demands of youth protesters, including the monarchy reform, be brought to a safe zone by setting up a House special committee to hear their grievances.

“The complainant connected these separate incidents in accusing me,” he said

In Mr Thanathorn’s case, the former leader of Future Forward was accused of his role in connection with Samesky, a publishing house specialising in Thai politics.

“This despite him not being on the editorial — he was a founder more than 10 years ago,” said Mr Piyabutr.

Mr Thanathorn also faced the charges for bringing up issues involving the state budget for the monarchy.

In Ms Pannika’s case, her accusation centred around her Facebook Live sessions from rally sites.

Mr Piyabutr commented that if the accusations are based on these incidents, it bodes badly for healthy discussions of the monarchy, even when they were done in good faith and for academic purposes.

It also does not benefit the palace because the case will have to be heard in court, he said.

Mr Thanathorn said what happened to them also happened to other people and student protesters. He urged media and the public to check on the exercise of authority by the powers-that-be to see whether it was fair and indiscriminate and whether the charges were reasonable.

Ms Pannikar urged Gen Prayut to stop using the same old weapon he has been relying on for seven years.

“Prosecution of dissidents no longer works. These bullets are blank— they not only fail to stop the rallies but also escalate them,” she said.


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