SEVEN Thai activists were sent to prison on Friday following their campaign against the junta-backed draft constitution which is due for a referendum process in August.
The imprisonment by a Thai court came after 13 people were arrested on Thursday for handing out leaflets calling on the public to vote against the charter, Reuters reported.
Kumklao Songsomboon of the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights group said six of the arrested were released while the remaining chose not to post bail.
“Six have been released but seven will be jailed,” he was quoted as saying.
The 13 activists were detained for defying a military order banning political gatherings of five or more people.
According to the United Nations Human Rights Office’s (OHCHR) regional office for Southeast Asia, eight of those arrested on June 23 – in the Bang Plee Industrial Area in Samut Prakarn Province, south of Bangkok – were students affiliated with the New Democracy Movement (NDM). The three others were labor rights activists.
“At the time of their arrest, they were distributing leaflets related to the upcoming referendum on the draft Constitution.”
The OHCHR said seven student activists were arrested at Kasetsart University in Bangkok On June 24. They were detained for allegedly holding an event related to the referendum.
“Under the Referendum Act, campaigning for or against the draft Constitution is forbidden,” it said in a statement.
UN Human Rights Chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein earlier this month repeated his calls for a “free, fair and dynamic public debate on the draft constitution”.
Zeid said the Thai public had a right to discuss – and to criticize – decisions about their country.
The OHCHR office said the disproportionate use of force used in conducting the arrests on June 23 and 24 was a cause for concern.
“In one case security officials dragged an NDM activist by his neck,” it said. “Our Office urges the authorities to immediately release without charge those being held in relation to the two incidents.”