Army Has Sent Soldiers to Raid Election Candidates’ Homes

Soldiers search the home of a Democrat politician Wednesday in Mae Hong Son province.
Soldiers search the home of a Democrat politician Wednesday in Mae Hong Son province.

BANGKOK — Politicians from both sides of the fence said Thursday their homes had been searched by armed soldiers this past week.

Party officials and candidates from the Pheu Thai and Democrat parties told the media that soldiers raided their residences on the pretext of looking for drugs or other contraband, though the politicians are convinced the army is seeking to intimidate them in the final days of campaigning.

“I was very shocked and angry that this kind of thing happened,” said Democrat official Niran Chankan, whose home in Mae Hong Son was reportedly raided while his elderly parents were there. “If I were listed as a drug dealer or a convicted criminal, I wouldn’t have complained a word for searching my home like that.”

Two other Democrat candidates in the province likewise said fully armed soldiers carried out searches of their homes Wednesday, causing much alarm to them and their families.

A statement released by Pheu Thai Party said some of its officials were subjected to similar treatment in several provinces during the past week.

“The searches were intimidating as if they were raids to arrest criminals,” the statement said. “It’s incredible that these actions take place just when the election is only a few days away.”

All of them said the soldiers did not have any court warrant, but forced their way in by invoking Section 44 of the 2014 charter, which grants soldiers acting under junta orders to search or detain anyone without a warrant.

No one was charged with any criminal offenses during the raids.

Despite their vast differences, Pheu Thai and Democrat candidates now find themselves united on one issue, at least for the time being: preventing pro-junta Phalang Pracharath Party from winning and naming Gen. Prayuth the next prime minister.

While the opposition has routinely accused the military of siding with Phalang Pracharath, the armed forces publicly deny any favoritism.

Army chief Gen. Apirat Kongsompong said earlier this week he has instructed all soldiers to maintain neutrality and not interfere with Sunday’s voting.