NCPO fears third hand in coup protests

NCPO fears third hand in coup protests

'Taser' claims emerge from students

A student, who refused to obey police, is taken to the Pathumwan police station from the Bangkok Art & Culture Centre on May 22, 2015. (Photo by Pawat Laopaisarntaksin)
A student, who refused to obey police, is taken to the Pathumwan police station from the Bangkok Art & Culture Centre on May 22, 2015. (Photo by Pawat Laopaisarntaksin)

The NCPO yesterday promised "severe punishment" for anyone found to have instigated anti-coup protests on Friday, as claims emerged that students and journalists were attacked and tasered during the demonstrations.

NCPO spokesman Col Winthai Suvaree said authorities were tightening the net around the individuals and groups who were believed to have encouraged the students to protest.

He warned students not to allow themselves to be "used" by people with a political agenda.

"The students are pure and inexperienced. They can't see the tricks of politicians and people with ill-intent, and they should be careful about being used," he said.

Thirty-eight students were arrested during Friday's demonstration outside the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, which marked one year since the military seized power. All have since been released.

During his detention at Pathumwan police station, student activist Rangsiman Rome uploaded an 80-second video detailing how he and his friends were attacked by authorities.

“Some were electrocuted by taser, and some [protesters] had their hair pulled, including me,” the Thammasat University law student said in the clip, which was posted on Facebook.

“We were punched and attacked in our private parts. Many are bruised, and their conditions are getting worse."

Many of the protesters were dragged away by officers, including a Bangkok Post photographer who was mistaken for a student and briefly detained.

A foreign freelance photographer and video journalist, who preferred to remain anonymous, said he was hit from behind with an unknown object while filming and turned around in time to see someone pass a black object discreetly to their colleague.

“As the uniformed officers moved in to detain the protesters I felt something connect with the back of my arm and then a tingling all over my body,” he said. “I involuntarily slumped forward and let go of my camera.”

Ratthakan Deephum, a 27-year-old master’s student at Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Science, said she felt a wave of electricity as police cornered the protesters, but did not see an actual taser being used.

“There were plainclothes officers who happened to be among the crowd, and they didn’t coordinate with the police,” Ms Ratthakan said. “They [the officers] were the ones hurting us.”

Col Winthai yesterday denied claims that authorities had used violence against the group of students. He called on the public to "be careful", while threatening legal action against those who spread false information.

Addressing the annual conference of the Chamber of Commerce last night, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said his government would refrain from using the special powers available under Section 44 of the interim charter when dealing with students.

"They are our future. I'm trying to understand them," he said. "They have good [political] ideology and want things to improve, but it is not the right time. I have forgiven them several times."

Pol Col Jarut Sarutyaporn, chief of Pathumwan police station, said yesterday that officers had interviewed all of the students before they were released, but they may be summoned again for further questioning.

The Thai Lawyers for Human Rights on Friday night issued a statement urging authorities to take responsibility for using force on unarmed protesters.

“This arbitrary detention is wrongly justified by the orders of commanders or coup-makers to instil fear among people,” the group said.

The Bangkok protesters were released without charge, but were reportedly made to sign an agreement to refrain from all political activity.

A group of seven students in Khon Kaen were also released yesterday after being detained on Friday for staging anti-coup protests.

They were charged with defying NCPO orders and each released on 7,500 baht bail.

Do you like the content of this article?
COMMENT (20)

Malaysia floods caused nearly $1.5 bln in losses

KUALA LUMPUR: Floods that had devastated much of Malaysia in recent weeks have caused an estimated 6.1 billion ringgit (US$1.46 billion) in overall losses, a government report said on Friday.

13:00

Border patrol seizes meth, ketamine after clash with smugglers

CHIANG MAI: A border patrol seized more than 4 million methamphetamine pills, 26 kilogrammes of ketamine and an improvised grenade abandoned by smugglers as they fled following a brief clash in Mae Ai district on Thursday.

12:45

Navy sailor who said he had bomb at airport will be disciplined

A navy officer seen on video falsely intimating he had a bomb in his bag ahead of boarding a flight at Hat Yai airport will be investigated and disciplined, the Royal Thai Navy spokesman said on Friday.

11:34