BANGKOK — Three soldiers were arrested Tuesday evening for headlocking a protester who refused to obey their orders to delete photos of an army base from his phone.
The brawl took place at around 4pm in front of the 4th Cavalry Division King’s Guard on Samsen Road, where pro-democracy demonstrators were submitting a motion to amend the charter at the new parliament building, which is located just opposite the base.
According to a witness, three unidentified plain-cloth soldiers ran out of the base and restrained a man who was taking photos of the military installation’s exterior and ordered him to delete the pictures.
Other protesters immediately surrounded the men, while activist Panupong Jadnok, who was attending the protest, intervened and asked the soldiers what right do they have to order a civilian.
The confrontation lasted for about ten minutes until a police officer arrived and brought the men to a nearby police station, where they apologized to the victim.
Metro police deputy commissioner Attawit Saiseub said the victim filed a police complaint against three men for the assault. Police will inform military officers from the Staff Judge Advocate to investigate the case further, he added.
“The men said they were ordered by their superior,” Col. Attawit said. “Although the men apologized to the victim, the victim insisted on pressing charges against them. It’s not wrong to take photos if there’s no intention of altering them.”
Protesters were marching from the nearby MRT Tao Poon station to the parliament on Tuesday afternoon to hand a petition to amend the Constitution to the House Speaker. Organizers said they were able to gather 50,000 signatures required for citizens to submit a bill to the parliament.
They reportedly received a total of 100,732 signatures from booths at rally sites and online channels.
Somboon Uthaiwiankul, secretary to the House Speaker Chuan Leekpai, received the documents on behalf of Chuan and said he will take it into consideration.
However, Chuan had said earlier that the group’s petition may not be discussed alongside the other amendment proposals submitted by coalition and opposition MPs since it was submitted too late.
“It wouldn’t be put on Wednesday’s meeting agenda since we have to check for names of the people who signed up for it first,” Chuan said. “It’s likely to be deliberated in the next meeting session.”
Protesters vowed to stage a rally in front of the parliament Thursday to demand the Lower House to push for their own draft of the charter amendment. The House is set to debate on the motions to amend the charter from Wednesday to Thursday.
“The parliament never gave importance to the people’s motion,” Jon Ungphakorn, director of iLaw, a group organizing the petition, said. “Let’s see whether they will care about the 100,732 signatures. If the House Speaker refuses to put it into consideration, he’s not a democracy advocate.”