Third Army Colonel Apologizes for Fingering Activists in Northern Thailand

Third Army Colonel Apologizes for Fingering Activists in Northern Thailand
Col Tinnachart Sutthirak, an intelligence officer, allegedly gives activists and villagers the finger at Phayao city hall on Tuesday.

PHAYAO – Third Army Region Commander Lt-General Wijak Siribansop on Thursday signed an order to remove Colonel Thinnchat Suthirak, who was seen displaying his middle finger to People Go Network activists last Tuesday.

He was removed as head of the information division at Military Circle 34 and ordered to report to a new post at the Third Army Region immediately.

The 34th Military Circle issued the statement on Thursday after a video clip showing Col Tinnachart Sutthirak, an intelligence officer, arguing with a group of We Walk activists and local villagers spread in social media.

Meanwhile, an investigation committee has been set up to investigate the issue, which will issue a conclusion within three days as to whether Thinnchat had violated Army rules.

Thinnchat on Thursday also admitted that he had gestured with his middle finger to the activists and said he wanted to apologise them, as he had “not meant to be rude”.

He was seen in a video clip (below) arguing with activists as they submitted a petition asking the governor of Phayao province to end a lawsuit against residents of Ban Doi Thewada in Payao’s Phu Sang district. The residents allegedly had violated the political gathering ban enacted by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).

After the issue was reported in the media, Thinnchat claimed he had not intended to be rude and had just been innocently gesturing with his hand.

In the case against 10 People Go Network members from Ban Doi Thewada, the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights has reported that police had already withdrawn a detention order filed with Chiang Kham Provincial Court, as they had decided not to pursue the case.

However, the activists still have to wait to see whether prosecutors will proceed.

The activists were charged with violating the political gathering ban enacted by NCPO order 3/2558 and the Public Gathering Act for their activities showing support for the We Walk march last month, which was held to promote social, civic and political rights.

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