BANGKOK Jan 21 Thai authorities arrested a
group of activists wanted for attempting to demonstrate against
the military last month, police said on Thursday, the latest
arrest of dissidents in the junta-ruled country.
Soldiers detained one student activist from the New
Democracy opposition group late on Wednesday and police arrested
a further three members of the group on Thursday.
They were the latest arrests by the army, which took power
in a May 2014 coup and has since curbed basic freedoms and
cracked down on critics.
The junta, known as the National Council for Peace and
Order, has defended the need to curb criticism at a politically
sensitive time for the country.
Sirawith Seritiwat, a student leader, said he was whisked
away from a university campus north of Bangkok on Wednesday.
He and the three other activists detained on Thursday are
wanted by police for attempting to protest against alleged
corruption in an army-built park.
In a video taken at a police station, Sirawith said he was
blindfolded and dragged through grass by authorities before
being kicked and hit.
"When I was taken in the car my face was covered and they
used a rope to cover my eyes so I couldn't see anything,"
"They dragged me into a grassy area."
Colonel Winthai Suvaree, a spokesman for the junta, denied
authorities mistreated Sirawith.
"What he said was all a soap opera. No such thing happened,"
Winthai told Reuters.
The other three activists were arrested at a police station
where they were protesting against Sirawith's abduction.
Chonthicha Jangrew, one of the three activists, said in a
clip posted on Facebook that the junta was trying to silence
those who disagree with it.
A lawyer for the students said they will be detained for
about seven days before formal charges are filed.
Police and soldiers last month temporarily detained dozens
of students trying to protest against alleged army corruption
involving the multi-million-dollar Rajabhakti Park, built in the
seaside resort town of Hua Hin south of Bangkok.
A defence ministry team looking into allegations of
corruption at the park said last month it had found financial
irregularities in the project but had no authority to
The park, a sprawling concrete plaza showcasing seven giant
bronze statues of former Thai kings, has been at the centre of
graft allegations by some Thai media and opposition groups,
including irregularities in fundraising events and lack of
(Additional reporting by Amy Sawitta Lefevre and Aukkarapon
Niyomyat; Editing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre and Nick Macfie)