NAKHON SI THAMMARAT — A radio DJ in the southern province of Nakhon Si Thammarat was arrested for distributing leaflets urging people to bring gasoline and tires for a protest in front of a local police station.
Wannawong Dechdechdecho, who works for 107.75 MHz, was arrested by soldiers on 19 March and taken to an army camp for "attitude adjustment" and interrogation, police say.
According to police, Wannawong, 36, confessed to distributing the leaflets, which invited the public to rally in front of the police station on 30 March to protest police’s “oppressive” practices.
The DJ reportedly told police he was frustrated with officers who set up checkpoints and fine motorists 400-500 baht for petty traffic violations. Wannawong also complained that police in the province often raid homes and detain individuals based on dubious drug charges, said Pol.Col. Chawasilpa Boonpradith, superintendent of Nakhon Si Thammarat Police Station.
Protests are currently banned by the military junta, which seized power from an elected government on 22 May 2014.
The full text of the leaflets read:
"To all vendors, people, and wise elders in the city of Nakhon Si Thammarat, I hereby arrange a protest, because police have oppressed the people, students, and teenagers, by causing widespread troubles. They have pressed fake charges, planted drugs, beat suspects. They arrest us, both motorists and motorcyclists, like bandits. They are clearly the bandits, my brothers and sisters. They pressed all kind of false charges on us. They are more evil each day. I and my team would like to invite all brothers and sisters of Khon City [nicknake of Nakhon Si Thammarat] to meet at the City Hall. Then we will march to protest in front of Nakhon Si Thammarat Police Station.
Whoever has gasoline, car tires, loudspeakers, bring it on, brothers and sisters. As for other stuff, I have no need to say about them. Depends on you. I thank you for reading this. See you on 30 March 2015, from 9 o'clock onward."
Pol.Col. Chawasailpa said he was especially troubled by the leaflet's instructions to bring "gasoline" and "car tires." However, Wannawong reportedly promised not to resort to such methods in the future, and was released after both parties "reached an understanding," the officer said.
"It was a reckless action," said Pol.Col. Chawasailpa. "He didn't expect that the leaflets would be so widely distributed and caused a buzz, and escalating into big issue."
It is a common complaint among Thais that traffic police officers appear more intent on making money from petty traffic violation fines than from stopping serious offenses. Traffic police are also known for demanding bribes.
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