Thailand: Youth-backed leader charged with sedition

Bangkok [Thailand]: Forty-year-old Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, the founder of the youth-backed Future Forward Party (FFP), has been charged with sedition by the military junta here on Saturday (local time).

A part of the pro-democracy alliance, the party presents itself as an anti-junta party, according to CNN. Thanathorn is “convinced” that the complaint is “politically motivated,” seeing how it comes just a few days after elections were held in the country.

“The regime creates fear for the society to silence us,” Thanathorn said after appearing at a police station here.
“I urge all Thais and the international community to call for civil rights to stand for human rights for the betterment of our society,” he added.

It is still unclear which party will be able to form the coalition government following the elections, which were held for the first time this year following 2014’s military coup.

The police allege that Thanathorn attended a demonstration against the military coup in 2015. He helped a protest leader, who violated the ban on gathering more than five people. He is accused of breaking article 116 of the Thai criminal code – the sedition law, article 189 for assisting others who committed a crime and article 215 for the unlawful assembly of more than 10 people.

FFP is immensely popular with Thailand’s seven million first-time voters due to its comparatively progressive policies like changing the military-drafted constitution, strengthening democratic institutions, bringing in government transparency, amongst others.

This is the second charge against Thanathorn, who is already facing criminal charges for criticising the military regime online – a charge which he has denied.

He is slated to stand trial in a military court. He could face nine years in prison if found guilty.