Thai exiles make plans to fight coup

Thai exiles make plans to fight coup
Thai police officers display to the media weapons seized in raids following a military coup on May 22, during a news conference at the Provincial Police Region headquarters in Bangkok, on Thursday.

THAILAND - Around 15 Thai political leaders who are allied to the ousted government plan to establish a movement outside Thailand to lead a campaign of civil disobedience against military rule, two members of the group said on Thursday.

General Prayuth Chan-ocha seized power in a coup on May 22 and has since silenced the "red shirt" supporters of former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her brother, former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

The military has detained many politicians and activists and demanded as a condition of release that they sign documents stating they will avoid politics and halt anti-coup activities.

If the plan proceeds, the group would represent the first attempt to mount organised opposition to military rule. The two activists said they had yet to decide exactly what measures the group would use, but said they would be peaceful and would aim to fill the leadership vacuum among anti-coup elements.

"We believe democracy in Thailand has been systematically destroyed," said former government minister and "red shirt" founding member Jakrapob Penkair in a telephone interview from Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital.

"People have been chastened, hunted and bullied with no sense of fairness, justice or decency. We aim to create an organisation for all groups protesting the coup inside and outside Thailand. This would be a non-radical group using civil disobedience."

Thaksin, who lives in exile, was not involved in the movement, said Jakrapob and a second member of the group, fugitive former member of parliament Sunai Julapongsathorn.

It is unclear how much momentum the movement would gain among those opposed to the junta without the backing of Thaksin, who revolutionized Thai politics and commands the loyalty of millions in the populous north.

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