Thailand’s military has filed sedition charges against opposition politicians and academics. Accusing them of stirring unrest with talk of amending the constitution, police said on Friday.
Police in Thailand’s are looking into the complaint, which was raised by a unit of the military that operates in Southern Thailand.
“We’re investigating whether wrongdoing had been committed and by whom,” a police spokesman said.
Thailand’s sedition law is broadly worded, and rights activists say it has been increasingly used against political opponents. Especially after the military seized power in the coup in 2014.
The complaint came after 12 prominent opposition leaders, politicians, and academics held a public seminar last week in about amending the 2017 constitution written by the military.
The Pheu Thai party, which leads the opposition, denied that the seminar stirred any unrest. They said the opposition parties would file a counter-complaint against the military for reporting falsehood.
Under Thai law, when a complaint is filed, police must investigate. The Thai decide whether there are grounds to pursue criminal charges.
The opposition also called the case another effort to harass them after a messy March election. Which lead to coup leader Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha being reinstated as prime minister. Prior to the election the Junta alter election laws giving themselves an advantage.
Opposition to Hold Seminars Nation Wide
Amending the charter, passed under the military junta, is a common goal for seven opposition parties. The seminar was the latest in a series of public hearings the opposition parties aimed to hold in every region.
The seminar also addressed issues specific to the Muslim-majority south, including religious tensions in the mostly Buddhist country, and how the constitution could be amended to solve them.
An ongoing insurgency has dragged on since 2004 in the southern border provinces of Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat, which were part of an independent Malay Muslim sultanate before Thailand annexed them in 1909.
Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, secretary-general of opposition Future Forward Party, said the sedition accusation was the military resorting to the “same old tactic” to silence political opponents.
“We, the opposition parties, will push ahead to amend the constitution,” he said in a news conference.