27 May 2014

“I’m ready to be arrested...”

Chaturon Chaisaeng, who was a member of the caretaker cabinet before last week’s coup, gave a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Bangkok today. Chaturon was ordered to report to the Royal Thai Army HQ, along with the rest of the cabinet, though he is one of the few who did not comply. At today’s press conference, he affirmed his opposition to martial law and the coup, and stated: “I’m ready to be arrested.” Sure enough, soldiers arrived and took him away.

Over the past few days, the coup leaders have issued orders to more than 200 politicians, journalists, and academics, threatening them with arrest if they do not report to the military. Many who did report have since been detained for up to a week at undisclosed military installations, though some of the most high-profile detainees have now been released.

Former PM Yingluck Shinawatra is no longer under military detention, and Suthep Thaugsuban has also been freed. Suthep was immediately taken to the Office of the Attourney General to answer charges related to his street protests, then taken to the Criminal Court and indicted for murder in relation to the 2010 military massacre. He was granted bail in both cases. He had previously refused to answer the murder charges on four separate occasions.

Coup leader Prayut Chan-o-cha has announced that anyone charged with offences relating to national security or lèse-majesté will now face a court martial rather than a regular trial with due process. After Chaturon’s arrest, it was revealed that he will be subject to a court martial. Prayut held a press conference yesterday to confirm that his National Council for Peace and Order had received royal endorsement; unlike previous coups, the decree was issued ex post facto and the King was not present at the ceremony.