Red-Shirt leaders recount experiences in detention

Red-Shirt leaders recount experiences in detention
Jatuporn, 4th from right, with fellow members in a photo taken in 2013.

LEADERS of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) who were released by the military on Wednesday after acknowledging sedition charges have been sharing their experiences.

On May 22, representatives of the People's Democratic Reform Commit-tee, the UDD, Pheu Thai, the Democrat Party and the government reported for a meeting with Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha, only to find themselves in custody before the Army declared that it was taking over.

Then, according to their account, the UDD leaders were searched, made to surrender their mobile phones, tied up and blindfolded before they were ushered into a helicopter and taken to an unidentified location.

Upon arrival, their blindfolds were removed and they found themselves in a not-so-clean house. At 9pm, they were given food, a change of clothes, towels and electric fans. They were also told not to venture out of the house.

For the first night, Thida Tavonseth was allowed to sleep in an air-conditioned room on the first floor, while Kokaew Pikulthong was put up in the living room on the ground floor. Nuttawut Saikuar had to settle for the pump room, but was given better accommodation the following night.

In the morning, everybody was given a pen and paper to make a list of what they wanted and hand it over to the soldiers.

During the detention, the UDD leaders were allowed to speak to the soldiers only when they wanted something. On the last night, the soldiers told them they would be taken back to Bangkok in the morning.

The following morning, each leader was blindfolded and ushered into a separate van along with six soldiers before they headed for Bangkok. It was only when they were on the motorway heading toward the Army Club on that their blindfolds were removed.

The UDD leaders released, Jatuporn Promphan, Nuttawut, Vira-karn Musigapong, Weng Tojirakarn and Thida, were warned to not do anything political in nature.

Upon arriving at home, Jatuporn immediately posted a message on Facebook, saying, "I have arrived home already and am safe. Thank you all for worrying about me."

In addition, Weng's and Thida's son Salaktham Tojirakarn said on Facebook that his parents were safely released on Wednesday and that they were well.

In the post, he also called on the National Council for Peace and Order to allow relatives and lawyers to visit those who are still in detention, adding that he hoped the detainees would be released soon.

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