BANGKOK – Thailandâ€™s Military Wednesday arrested 8 people for allegedly posting â€œdisturbingâ€ messages on Facebook, amid rising tensions over an upcoming constitutional referendum.
The eight were detained by troops on Wednesday over Facebook comments criticizing the draft, which has been denounced by groups on both sides of Thailand’s political divide ahead of the Aug. 7 referendum.
Police said the eight had been charged over comments critical of the junta and the constitution.
According to Lawyers for Human Rights said the people were abducted by the military in the early hours of this morning.
The Bangkok Post newspaperÂ reported that those arrested had been taken to army bases and would be held there for a week for what was sinisterly referred to as ‘attitude adjustment’.
Two men were taken from their homes in Bangkok while another two were seized in Khon Kaen, Sarawut Wongsaranon of the lawyerâ€™s group told Khaosod News.
However Rights lawyer Arnon Nampa, believes as many as eight people might have been detained by the military this morning, four more than those who have been identified.
â€œUrgent! Soldiers have come to my house,â€ was posted to Facebook early Wednesday morning by Noppakao Kongsuwan, a former bodyguard for the Red Sunday groupâ€™s Sombat Boonngam-anong.
The post has since been removed, but members of his family confirmed he was taken away.
In the northeastern province of Khon Kaen, former Matichon newspaper reporter Harit Mahaton Â and shop owner Nithi Kooltanasilp were taken by 20 military officers from the Japanese ramen shop they run, workers at the shop told the lawyerâ€™s group.There whereabouts are also unknown at this time.
Matichon and Khaosod English are both part of the Matichon Group.
Thai Lawyers for Human Rightsâ€™ lawyer Poonsuk Poonsukcharoen meanwhile said itâ€™s unclear if the cases were related. He said they are working to identify the identities of the four others believed to also have been detained.
The detentions come as the military regime has moved aggressively to quash and criminalize open debate of the constitution it wants to see adopted by voters in August.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and other officials have made clear they disapprove of any criticism of the proposed charter and referendum.
The government insists its own ambitious plans to publicize the charter’s contents are strictly educational. Prayuth seized power in May 2014 after staging a coup against an elected government.
By By Pravit Rojanaphruk – Khaosod News