Saturday, Nov 01, 2014

Thailand troops detain Cabinet minister who blasted coup

Military police stand guard during an anti-coup demonstration at the Victory Monument in Bangkok, Thailand Tuesday, May 27, 2014. Source: AP Photo Military police stand guard during an anti-coup demonstration at the Victory Monument in Bangkok, Thailand Tuesday, May 27, 2014. Source: AP Photo
Associated Press | Bangkok | Posted: May 27, 2014 7:04 pm

on their own, vowing to return on Tuesday.

The junta has ordered 258 people to report to the authorities so far. Among them are scholars, journalists and political activists seen as critical of the regime.

It is unclear how many are in custody, but some have been released, including former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who had already been forced from power by a court ruling before the putsch took place.

Others are being summoned daily, and some have fled or are in hiding. Human rights groups describe a chilling atmosphere with soldiers visiting the homes of perceived critics and taking them away in the night.

Prayuth said the army was taking people into custody to give them time “to calm themselves down” and none was being tortured or beaten. “When summoned, they will be asked about what they’ve done. … If they are calm and still, they will be released.”

Chaturon called the detentions “absurd” and said “they are taking people who have done nothing wrong just because they might resist the coup.”

“The problem is, we don’t know how long they are going to be detained,” he said. “I’m worried more about the people who fight for democracy and the academics. … We don’t know what happened to them. We don’t really know.”

Chaturon dismissed speculation that members of the ousted government and their allies could form a government-in-exile. But warned that “from now on there will be more and more resistance. … It will be a disaster for this country.”

He did not elaborate.

The junta has yet to map a way out of the crisis, but Prayuth has said there would be political and administrative reforms. On Monday, he gave the green light for the Finance Ministry to seek billions of dollars in loans to pay debts owed farmers under a disastrous rice scheme instituted by the ousted government.

The junta has given no timetable for restoring civilian rule, and Chaturon said Prayuth “might want to hold onto power for some time.”

Prayuth, he said, has “assigned the generals to take care of the jobs at the ministries _ the tasks they know the least.”

Just before soldiers arrived to take Chaturon away, he explained why he had not turned himself in earlier. That would be like a student reporting to a teacher, he said, adding, “I should be the one to educate them.”

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