BANGKOK — Thai authorities said on Monday they have revoked the passports of six people wanted on arrest warrants, including two who founded an anti-coup movement in exile, as the military junta continues to promote obeisance to its rule.
Since taking power by coup in May, the junta has summoned hundreds of people for discussion, interrogation and detention—usually for a maximum of a week. The six are among a handful who defied the summons.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs cancelled the Thai passports of ex-Interior Minister Charupong Reuangsuwan and Jakrapob Penkair, once a government spokesman, who formed an opposition group last week, said the ministry’s Permanent Secretary Sihasak Phuangketkeow.
The pair set up the Organization of Free Thais for Human Rights and Democracy on June 24,the anniversary of the revolution in 1932 that changed Thailand from an absolute monarchy into a constitutional one. The group’s potential to get public support is limited as Thailand remains under martial law and acts of dissent are increasingly rare.
The others whose passports were revoked are two suspects in alleged anti-monarchy defamation cases, an ex-lawmaker from the former ruling party and a Red Shirt political group member. The arrest warrant for Charupong and the former parliamentarian also cites their defiance of the summons to meet with the junta. The suspect in one defamation case lives in the UK, and the others are presumed to have fled Thailand and are living overseas.
Sihasak said the authorities were also seeking options to have Jakrapob sent back to Thailand from Hong Kong, where he is reportedly residing, because the two countries do not have an extradition treaty. Jakrapob was accused of defaming the country’s monarch, a crime also known as lèse-majesté, which carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison, and faced fresh charges over the weekend of illegal possession of war weapons, an accusation he denied immediately.
Charupong led the Pheu Thai Party that won the 2011 election and served under Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. After aggressive street protests were launched against her government last year, the army took power in May 22, saying the coup was necessary to end violence and political chaos.