BANGKOK – In a brazen defiance against the military rule in Thailand, hundreds of anti-junta leaflets were strewn in front of army headquarters here early today with the word “free Thailand” typed on each of them.
The 5-by-6-inch leaflets contained several versions of text in bold type condemning and mocking the military’s National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) and its chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, as well as the military and police, a junta spokesman said.
The word “Serithai”, meaning Free Thailand, in small type was on the bottom right corner of the leaflets, the Bangkok Post reported.
They were scattered on Ratchadamnoen Nok Avenue, leading to the closure of the road for traffic for 20 minutes.
Footage from closed circuit cameras in the area found the leaflets were distributed from a pink taxi and a motorcycle.
Anti-coup groups’ protests also include symbolic readings of George Orwell’s dystopian novel “1984” and the three- fingered salute from the “Hunger Games” movies.
But these public protests withered after the groups’ leaders were arrested in a crackdown by the junta.
Col Winthai Suwaree, a deputy NCPO spokesman, believes there would be no repeat since officers were keeping a close watch on the situation.
Col Sirichan Ngathong of the NCPO warned that distributing fliers or attacking other people was not an acceptable method of expressing dissent and should be avoided.
“Let’s use the appropriate channels to disagree. We have had enough social unrest because of these differences in opinions,” she said.
Since the May 22 coup, the junta has outlawed all protests and made it clear it would not tolerate criticism, citing the need to maintain peace and order during the transition period.
Yesterday, a military court made its first anti-coup protest ruling when Saravut Kulomturapoj, a red shirt Thaksin supporter in northern Chiang Rai province, was sentenced to a three-month jail term, suspended for one year, and fined 5,000 baht for violating NCPO order banning all protests.
Saravut and seven of his friends had on May 25 held up placards in a number of areas calling for the release of seven protesters who had met at a restaurant for anti-coup activities and were arrested earlier on that day.
The army seized power on May 22 from the embattled Yingluck Shinawatra, who was earlier forced by a court to step down on May 7 for abusing power by transferring a top official.