BANGKOK – Thailand’s Army chief Theerachai Nakvanich has told the Bangkok Post that Re-education camps for frequent government critics have been prepared nationwide and a list of potential detainees has been compiled.
The expanded seven day course is aimed at people who are still unable to understand the workings of the government and the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), Gen Theerachai Nakvanich said in Samut Prakan on Friday.
A list of potential “trainees” had been compiled and they were familiar faces who were demonstrating and expressing political opinions, said Gen Theerachai, who is also the NCPO secretary-general.
“Training venues” were ready nationwide, including sites in the southern border provinces of Pattani and Yala, he said during a visit to a mangrove reforestation project at the army’s Bang Poo seaside resort.
Earlier this week, Prime Minister and NCPO chief Prayut Chan-o-cha said he wanted a more effective “training course” about ethics, morality and good governance for critics.
His comments followed the detention of two Pheu Thai Party politicians, Worachai Hema and Watana Muangsook, who have repeatedly criticised the government and the new draft constitution.
Since it took power in May 2014, the military has called in hundreds of political figures and activists for “attitude adjustment” sessions at military camps.
Most of those who have spoken about their experiences say they were treated well and the discussions with military men were cordial. Generally, they are released on condition that they desist from further activity, but some get called back for more talks because they do not abide by that condition.
The expansion of the attitude adjustment programme follows a move by the junta to grant expanded police powers to soldiers. The NCPO has said the police are overburdened and need help in cracking down on the thousands of people it has identified in an anti-crime and corruption drive.
However, critics of the plan have expressed concern that instead of rounding up the likes of loan sharks and drug dealers, soldiers will be pressed into service to detain ordinary citizens who hold views at odds with those of the government.