BANGKOK — A group of activists opposed to the junta-backed constitution draft were arrested by soldiers in eastern metro Bangkok today as they campaigned against the charter.
Rangsiman Rome and several other New Democracy Movement activists were distributing leaflets urging people to vote no in the upcoming charter referendum at a marketplace when soldiers put them in custody and took them to a nearby police station.
In a video of the incident, soldiers could be seen forcefully dragging Rome away toward a waiting vehicle. It was unclear whether they would face any criminal charges.
Someone who answered Rome’s phone but declined to be identified, said he saw at least 10 people detained by the soldiers.
On its Facebook page, the New Democracy Movement said it had received approval to distribute the materials so long as they did not speak out against the military government.
The New Democracy Movement is one group calling for the public to reject the draft charter when it goes to an up-or-down vote on Aug. 7 on the grounds it would hamstring democratic institutions. The junta, on the other hand, insists the constitution will lay down political reform and is calling on the public to vote for it.
Junta critics say the referendum is fraught with excessive restrictions such as a ban on campaigning for or against the charter, or staging debates without official sanction. Earlier this week the junta also shut down a referendum monitoring operation set up by the Redshirt movement.