Junta Bars Pheu Thai Politician From Leaving Country

Thailand's junta is chaired by Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, pictured here speaking to reporters at Government House in Bangkok on 9 July 2015

BANGKOK — A top leader of the Pheu Thai Party said the ruling military junta has denied his application for an overseas trip.

According to former Pheu Thai MP Wattana Muangsuk, junta officials said he was barred from leaving the country because he has been criticizing the regime through interviews with the media. The officials reportedly told him he could file another request on 18 September. 

"I listened to them and could not help feeling pathetic about their methods of thinking and working," said Wattana, whose party led the elected government that was toppled by the junta in May 2014.

"I am not surprised that these people, who seized power from the people, have managed to cause so much damage to the country under their administration over the past year."

The junta had not commented on the incident at the time of publication. 

Shortly after staging a coup against the Pheu Thai-led government in May 2014, the junta summoned most of Thailand’s major politicians for "attitude adjustment" sessions in army camps.

Most were released within seven days on the conditions that they not participate in any political activities, and seek permission from the junta before leaving the country.

The junta, known officially as the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), has granted some Pheu Thai leaders permission to go abroad, including former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. 

Speaking to reporters today, Wattana lashed out at the junta for stripping away his rights of travel enshrined under Article 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Thailand is a signatory party. 

"You cite my criticism of you as the reason for the ban on travel, isn't that a bit idiotic?" Wattana fumed. "I am not surprised to see that you don't understand it, because human rights are about humans. You have to be humans in order to understand rights of humans. And even though you ban me from traveling, I will never bow down to the power that does not come from the people. Nowadays, I live as a captive who has no options. It's like being told to give up my money by a thief. It doesn't mean I agree with the theif." 

He added, "I feel about you [junta] in the same way that [former Prime Minister] Kukrit Pramoj wrote in his Soi Suan Phlu column of Siam Rath newspaper on 15 March 1983. If you remember what it means, please go tell those people for me."

Wattana was referring to an angry rant penned by Kukrit in his daily column toward an army commander who he believed was steering Thailand towards Communist dictatorship. The column began and ended with the sentence "I am not afraid of you dammit." 

 

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