Nitirat group 'won't be intimidated'

Nitirat group 'won't be intimidated'

More than 100 people gather at Thammasat University to give support to the Nitirat group on March 1, 2012. (Photo by Apichart Jinakul)
More than 100 people gather at Thammasat University to give support to the Nitirat group on March 1, 2012. (Photo by Apichart Jinakul)

Members of the Nitirat law group at Thammasat University say they will continue to disseminate their opinions in the spirit of academic principle, despite the attack on core member Worajet Pakeerat on Wednesday.

Twin brothers Supot and Supat Silarat, 30, surrender to police on March 1, 2012. (Photo by Chanat Katanyu)

Two men, twin brothers from Pathum Thani's Thanyaburi district, surrendered to police on Thusday and reportedly admitted to intentionally attacking Mr Worajet because they opposed the group's campaign for changes to Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the lese majeste law.

Group supporters gathered at Thammasat University's Tha Phrachan campus on Thursday to show support for Mr Worajet, who sufferred bruising to the right side of his face.

Piyabut Saengkanokkul and Poonthep Sirinupong, members of the Nitirat group, received flowers from the supporters on Mr Worajet's behalf at the parking lot of the law faculty.

The supporters read a statement condemning the attackers and whoever might be behind the assault, saying it was an act of intimidation against academic freedom and development.

They called for the government to make sure that those responsible were quickly arrested by police and punished to deter any further use of force in the future.

Mr Piyabut said the group stands firm in its intention to disseminate its academic points of view within the scope of the law and constitution.

"We must admit that, as human-beings, we are worried by what happened to us. From now on we will have to be more careful in our daily lives, but not to the extent that we need police security.

"Pol Lt-Gen Winai Thongsong, the Metropolitan Police chief, and his deputy Pol Maj-Gen Wichai Sangprapai have, however, insisted that they will assign police to look after us during this period, but not in the long run," he said.

Mr Piyabut said Mr Worajet did not have classes to teach and will take a rest on Thursday. He did not know if Mr Worajet will be back to teach on Friday.

The lecturer said he did not know Supot and Supat Silarat, the 30-year-old twin brothers detained for the attack. The group would let police handle the matter, he added.

Nitirat group core member Worajet Pakeerat carries bruises to his face after he was physically assaulted by two men yesterday. (Photo by Patipat Janthong)

Mr Piyabut said he had received intimidating letters and telephone calls. Some strangers came to locate the offices use by him and other members of the Nitirat group, but he did not think an attack would happen.

Charan Ditha-apichai, a core member of the red shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, said after giving roses to Mr Piyabut and Mr Poonthep the daring broad daylight attack on Mr Worajet in the Thammasat campus was a violation of human rights and an intimidation against academic freedom.

Mr Charan said he did not think the two attackers acted on their own but believed they were ordered by a group of people who wanted to create the impression that amending Article 112 would lead to violence.

Law Association of Thammsat University president Somyos Chuathai also issued a statement, saying that those who were behind the attack wanted to create chaos and division in the country to a point where compromise and reconciliation were out of reach.

Thammasat University rector Somkid Lertpaithoon condemned the attackers on his Facebook page before they surrendered to police.

Theera Suthiwarangkura, an academic in the Nitirat group, also posted a message on his Facebook page to the attackers: "I can tell you that you are wrong, if you think we are afraid.  We will continue on even though you have resorted to the use of force."

The twin brothers surrendered to Pol Lt-Gen Winai on Thursday morning.

They admitted to having carried out the attack because of their dissatisfaction with the Nitirat group's move to amend the lese majeste law, Pol Lt-Gen Winai said.

The two, who said they made their living selling clothing and perfume, told police they went to Thammasat University with the intent to attack Mr Worajet without being hired by anyone, he said.

They were charged with bodily assault which carries a penalty of up to three years in jail and a fine of up to 6,000 baht.

They will be arraigned in the North Bangkok District Court.

More than 100 people gather at Thammasat University to give support to the Nitirat group on March 1, 2012. (Photos by Apichart Jinakul)

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