Thailand’s junta has another go at rigging elections

Apr 11, 2019

HE TURNED TO the crowd outside the police station, lifted his eyes to the heavens and raised three fingers. This salute, a sign of resistance to tyranny in “The Hunger Games”, a dystopian series of novels and films, is the kind of gesture that has made Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, the leader of Future Forward, a political party he founded last year, wildly popular with young Thai voters. Inside the station, Mr Thanathorn was charged with sedition, assisting criminals and taking part in an illegal assembly.

The rap sheet relates to a protest in 2015 against the military junta which, in theory, is now on the verge of returning Thailand to civilian rule. The authorities say Mr Thanathorn helped to arrange the protest, which was illegal only under the extremely restrictive rules the junta placed on all political activity. If convicted he could face seven years in prison and a ban from politics. It is his second criminal case. Last year he was charged with computer crimes for critical comments about the junta he made in videos streamed on Facebook. He denies wrongdoing. Future Forward came third in last month’s election; the junta says the charges are “entirely unrelated to current political events”.

Thus continues the generals’ blundering campaign to keep control of the country. Since seizing power in a coup almost five...


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