Yingluck supporters decry junta’s obstructive tactics

Former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra hands longan fruit she was given by supporters to her aide in front of the Criminal Court on Aug 1. Her supporters will be back on Aug 25, when the court passes judgement on her rice-pledging case. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

Frustrated members of the Pheu Thai Party and United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship have denounced the government over its tactics to discourage them from showing support for former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra on judgement day, next Friday.

Former Pheu Thai MP and regular junta critic Watana Muangsook spoke out again on Friday.

He accused the government and National Council for Peace and Order of “overreacting” in their preparations for Aug 25, when the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions will hand down its ruling on the rice-pledging case against the former prime minister.

The NCPO had no reason to fret over her supporters gathering at the court, Mr Watana said.

Ms Yingluck has denied all wrongdoing in handling the loss-making rice scheme, one of the flagship policies of her former Pheu Thai administration. She could face 10 years in jail if the court finds her guilty.

About 1,000 supporters turned up outside the court on Aug 1, when she delivered her closing statement in the trial. Authorities expect the on Aug 25. But Ms Yingluck’s supporters will be faced with  the government has said will deployed at the court on that day.

Police have already charged  for ferrying her supporters to the court on Aug 1, accusing them of breaching land transport regulations, and warned that there will be no more transporting of politically linked passengers.

Former UDD leader Tida Thawornseth also blasted the government on Friday over its tactics to keep supporters of the former prime minister at bay.

Preventing them getting an easy ride to the court in Bangkok is not the only tactic.

A UDD coordinator in Phayao province, Siriwat Jutamatta, said on Friday his house was frequently visited by security officials checking on the movement of red-shirt members in the province ahead of the Aug 25 judgement.  Red-shirt members in several provinces were keeping in touch about travelling to Bangkok and giving Ms Yingluck moral support, he added.

Pethchawat Wattanapongsirikul, a leader of the Rak Chiang Mai 51 group, which is closely affiliated to the UDD, said its members will all find their own way to the court.

Their show of support on Aug 25 should not be seen as a political gathering, he said, adding: “We cannot leave the one we love alone when she faces the verdict.”

Fully armed soldiers were seen patrolling in Pa Sang district in Lamphun on Wednesday and UDD key figure Nattawut Saikuar claimed their presence was to tame supporters of Ms Yingluck.

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon on Friday denied the soldiers were intimidating anyone. They were there for a field exercise, he said.

“They don’t (try to block supporters of Ms Yingluck). What would they do that for?” he said. “They were on a training exercise, with guns but no live ammunition,” he added.

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