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Cablegate: Thai Anti-Junta Group Leaders Arrested After

VZCZCXRO4144
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHBK #4091/01 2081039
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 271039Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8525
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 4583
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 7457
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 1387
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 9562
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 1815
RUEHCHI/AMCONSUL CHIANG MAI 3892
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JCS WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RHHMUNA/USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 004091

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KDEM KJUS ASEC TH
SUBJECT: THAI ANTI-JUNTA GROUP LEADERS ARRESTED AFTER
VIOLENT DEMONSTRATION

REF: BANGKOK 4003 (VIOLENT DEMONSTRATION)

BANGKOK 00004091 001.2 OF 002


1. (SBU) Summary: The leaders of the demonstration against
GEN Prem (reftel) were detained by police on July 26 and
denied bail. Thai officials briefed the diplomatic community,
emphasizing that they would respect the right of citizens to
peaceful protest, but would not allow violence, or disruptive
demonstrations in residential neighborhoods. The Thai public
in general is unlikely to have much sympathy for the
demonstrators, given the evidence of violence shown in the
news reports, but the detention of the protest leaders,
especially after the courts had said they would not issue an
arrest warrant, will may provoke a sharp reaction from their
supporters. End summary.

2. (U) The authorities have detained nine top figures of the
Democratic Alliance Against Dictatorship (the DAAD -- also
known as the United Front of Democracy against Dictatorship,
or UDD) for their role in organizing the unruly July 22
protest at the residence of Privy Council President Prem
Tinsulanonda (reftel). Pursuant to a court order sprung on
the protest organizers when they voluntarily appeared at the
Bangkok Criminal Court on July 26, the Police moved the DAAD
figures to a police station, where they may be held for up to
12 days. (This detention period may be renewed.) The
charges include holding an illegal assembly that caused
unrest; all charges are based on the criminal code, not on
any legal provisions enacted after the coup. The suspects
were denied bail.

3. (U) The arrests follow a July 24 visit by Prime Minister
Surayud Chulanont to Prem, at his residence. In public
remarks there, Surayud said that the group has the "intention
of undermining the highest institution on which the country
and the public rely," i.e., the monarchy. (Privy Council
members are selected by the King, and GEN Prem is, in
particular, widely viewed as being close to the King. The
demonstrators demand that Prem resign may be viewed as
preempting the King's right to choose his advisors.)

4. (U) Ministry of Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary
Virasakdi Futrakul and Police region 1 commander Maj. Gen.
Manit Wongsomboun led a July 26 briefing for the diplomatic
corps to explain the government's perspective on the unruly
demonstration. The MFA permsec emphasized that the Thai
government would act in accordance with international law and
recognized the right of the people to demonstrate peacefully.
The police commander went through the events of the day step
by step, underscoring that the demonstrators had taken
actions such as throwing police barricades into the canal and
commandeering city garbage trucks and driving them through
barricades, which showed that the group was not committed to
carrying out a peaceful protest.

5. (U) He explained that the demonstrators had arrived at GEN
Prem's house at about 3 pm, and blared speeches through 4
large loudspeakers directed at Prem's house and other houses
in the neighborhood. Police tried to negotiate with the
demonstrators until about 7 pm, but the group insisted that
it would remain in place until Prem resigned from the Privy
Council. The police used tear gas and pepper spray, but the
crowd would not disperse. He said that several police were
sent to try to climb into the truck carrying the
demonstration leaders and the sound equipment in order to
turn off the loudspeakers. (Note: this was the only
significant divergence from the news coverage, which had
reported that the officers tried to climb into the truck to
arrest the UDD leaders. End note.) The crowd then turned
violent, throwing stones and other objects, damaging police
cars and other property. Gen. Manit said that the
authorities had previously allowed demonstrations to continue
without any interference when the demonstrators were on Sanam
Luang or were protesting at public institutions, such as the
Army HQ. However, they would not allow a demonstration to
continue in a private neighborhood like this one. He
emphasized that only police were involved in the action, and
that they were unarmed.


BANGKOK 00004091 002.2 OF 002


6. (SBU) Comment: As noted in reftel, we believe most Thais
looked askance at the behavior of the protesters, and public
sympathy for the detainees will be limited. The detention
does not appear unjustified, and the authorities likely
intend to signal clearly that, while they have allowed large
demonstrations to take place, they will not tolerate
violence. The way in which the group was taken into custody,
however, may occasion concern; the court had initially
declined to issue an arrest warrant if the group presented
themselves voluntarily. Once the police presented their
evidence against the group to the court, however, they
requested a "detention warrant" which the court granted. This
may provoke a sharp reaction from the UDD supporters. End
Comment.

7. (U) The names of the arrested DAAD (UDD) leaders are:
- Chatuporn Promphan
- Jakrapob Penkair
- Nattawut Saikua
- Veeera Musikhapong
- Viputhalaeng Pattanaphumthai
- Weng Tojirakarn
- Jaran Dithapichai
- Manit Jitjanklab
- Apiwant Viriyachai
ENTWISTLE

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