Junta unfazed by anti-coup free-Thai organisation set up overseas

Junta unfazed by anti-coup free-Thai organisation set up overseas

THAILAND - The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has decided to not take much notice of the organisation set up by politicians living in self-imposed exile to oppose the military coup.

NCPO spokesman Colonel Winthai Suvari said the council had not discussed the issue of the group, but only acknowledged its existence from media reports. Revelant organisations have not revealed information about the movement yet, he pointed out.

Politicians close to former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra have reportedly set up an organisation aimed at opposing "the military dictatorship and its aristocratic network" overseas.

The so-called Organisation of Free Thais for Human Rights and Democracy (FT-HD) was launched yesterday by former Pheu Thai Party leader Charupong Ruangsuwan and Jakrapob Penkair, a close aide to Thaksin.

Charupong is the group's secretary-general and Jakrapob its executive secretary, according to separate video clips made available on YouTube and Facebook.

Yesterday marked the 82nd anniversary of the 1932 revolution that ended absolute monarchy in the Kingdom and introduced constitutional monarchy.

In an eight-minute-long clip, Charupong said FT-HD supported the principles of democracy and human rights without any violence.

In another video clip for about as long, Jakrapob said the term "Free Thai", with its connotations of a resistance movement against the Japanese occupation during World War II, "had a deep resonance with ordinary Thais, reflecting their genuine desire for freedom and dignity".

He said the group's goals include opposing military dictatorship and its aristocratic network; restoring and strengthening democracy; guaranteeing respect for human dignity, equality, freedom and peace; promoting a free and fair economy; reforming Thai culture and improving the quality of life for one and all.

The Information and Communications Technology Ministry blocked the clips a few hours after they were posted online.

A red-shirt leader familiar with this new group said yesterday that it would be based in an unidentified neighbouring country. Due to the presence of martial law, the group would for now focus on social media but would become more active both online and on the street once an interim government is in place, the source added.

Jakrapob is scheduled to speak at the Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents' Club on July 1.

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