Activists, former MP arrested after staging protest
A group of democracy activists led by Chalard Vorachat became the first people to be arrested for defying the Administrative Reform Council's (ARC) order banning political assemblies and gatherings by five or more people.
Meanwhile, Thanaphol Eiwsakul, editor of the alternative magazine Fah Diew Kan, condemned the coup as illegitimate and vowed to stage a protest Thursday, citing the right to assembly included in the 1997 Constitution, that was nullified by the ARC after the coup.
Chalard was arrested at Democracy Monument at 12.30pm Wednesday while protesting against the coup, Prachathai news online reported.
Others who joined Chalard and were later arrested included former Ratchaburi MP Thawee Kraikupt. The group had unfurled a banner that said "Fasting in Protest Against the Destroyer of Democracy".
Thanaphol urged the public to condemn and resist the army takeover by exercising their rights spelt out in Article 65 of the 1997 Constitution to peacefully oppose a coup. But the ARC has warned that protesters face up to six months in jail, a fine of up to Bt10,000, or both.
In its seventh statement, the ARC said it had imposed the ban on such gatherings to ensure the country runs smoothly during the period of martial law that started on Tuesday night.
"I disagree with the coup. The problem was Thaksin [Shinwatra], but it was resolved by tearing apart the Constitution. It's not right," Thanaphol said.
"As a journalist I call for media diversity," he said, in reference to the ARC's order Wednesday ordering the media to exercise censorship of any news critical of the coup-makers and the new military regime.
"Coups are a relic of the past and even [United Nations Secretary-General] Kofi Anan doesn't approve. We call on the people to resist."
A group of students calling themselves "News Centre for Student Activities" also issued a statement condemning the coup, saying the action was "anti-democratic and truly dictatorial". The group urged the Thai people to wear black to mourn the death of Thai democracy and to refrain from co-operating with the "military junta".
It also urged the Campaign for Popular Democracy, which the group said had claimed to be supporting democracy, to oppose the ARC.
General Sonthi Boonyaratglin, who heads the ARC, has promised to return power to the people soon.