Rival coup prisoners demand separate living quarters
Coup leader Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha’s attempts to bring political rivals together “to love and be at peace” are not going as planned.
Dozens of key Pheu Thai, red shirt and anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) figures who are reportedly being detained at an army facility in Ayutthaya’s Wang Noi district have refused to sleep under the same roof.
A source said they were asked to mingle when they arrived at the facility. But after resistance, authorities agreed to put them in three different houses — one for PDRC members, the other two shared among Pheu Thai members and red shirt leaders.
The detainees are spending their time in a variety of ways. Nitithorn Lamlua, adviser to the Network of Students and People for Reform of Thailand, on Saturday went jogging at the military compound. He and other detainees were not allowed to stray too far though, since soldiers warned of cobra snakes lurking nearby.
PDRC co-leader Anchalee Paireerak spent time reading newspapers to fellow protest leaders, hosting her own morning news digest. Leading Pheu Thai Party and United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship members reportedly played cards.
Pheu Thai's former environment minister Preecha Rengsomboonsuk apparently tried to patch up differences with PDRC leaders, but his efforts failed.
All detainees were told they would have to stay in the compound for seven days, but some say they expect to be freed on Sunday. Some have health problems and are struggling to cope with limited resources.
Red-shirt leader Khwanchai Paipana has not yet fully recovered from gunshots wounds sustained during a shooting several months ago. PDRC members Seree Wongmontha and Gen Preecha Iamsuphan have diabetes. A request is being made to transfer them to somewhere with more accessible medical services.
A source said each of the detainees was given a basic change of clothes and personal items including a toothbrush and toothpaste. None knew they would be detained when they reported to the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) on Friday. The detention appears to be aimed at preventing political leaders from rallying support against the coup.
NCPO spokesman Col Winthai Suvaree said former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra and leaders on both sides of the political conflict are staying in comfortable places and will likely be detained for another three to five days.
A source said that Pheu Thai members who are being detained at other locations are well. They can make phone calls but must ask for permission.