Tasanee Buranupakorn, who was also a former Chiang Mai MP, was arrested when she turned herself in at the Royal Thai police headquarters in Bangkok to seek justice for her younger sister, Thanthip, who was apprehended by army officers at her home in Chiang Mai on Tuesday night (July 26).
The arrests came after law enforcement officials raided six locations linked to Boonlert Buranupakorn, president of the Chiang Mai OrBorJor on Saturday.
One of the raided locations was Chiang Mai Tusnaporn Co – a wood furniture manufacturer and exporter – run by Mr Boonlert, whose family has been closely connected with the Pheu Thai Party.
Police said they found the letters contained distorted information that claimed the draft charter would cancel the government’s B30 healthcare scheme, monthly payments to the elderly and free schooling.
Mr Boonlert was later suspended from his job without pay according to an order under Section 44 of the interim charter by Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha. He is said to be travelling abroad.
Before being arrested at police headquarters yesterday, Ms Tasanee, Mr Boonlert’s niece, told reporters her family had nothing to do with the letters.
She said she went to meet Provincial Police Region 5 commissioner Tanitsak Teerasawat on Monday (July 25) in Chiang Mai to maintain her innocence and insist there was no need to seek any arrest or search warrant against her.
“I am confident the letters which were used to accuse me contain no information which breach the laws,” said Ms Tasanee. “No efforts have been made to distort or falsify the draft charter.”
She said that in her view, the letters represent differing opinions about the draft charter, particularly during this period in the lead-up to the referendum, and people should have the opportunity to express their views.
However, upon her visit to Bangkok police headquarters yesterday, Ms Tasanee was taken away by army officers on a charge of inciting public unrest under Section 116 of the Criminal Code. She was reportedly taken into custody at the 11th Military Circle.
Ms Tasanee’s lawyer, Jamnong Chaimongkol, said he wanted the government and the Election Commission to explain why the letters expressing views on the draft charter were against Section 116.
Ms Tasanee and her sister are among 11 people facing charges in relation to the offending letters. Others include Khachen Jiakkhajorn, mayor of tambon Chang Phueak in Chiang Mai’s Muang district, whose house was also raided on Saturday, and Wisarut Khunatisarn, whom Chiang Mai Tusnaporn staff said the letters belonged to.
Meanwhile, Pheu Thai party members yersterday insisted the letters only contain opinions on the draft charter and are not in violation of the referendum laws.
Pheu Thai’s former Chiang Rai MP Samart Kaewmeechai said the letters merely express concerns about the draft charter, such as the public’s rights to education and health care and benefits for the elderly, which are inferior to the 1997 and 2007 charters.
“In the North, there are no fake letters or any attempts to cause unrest,” said Mr Samart. “The public should get the chance to discuss the draft charter, so people can clearly understand its contents.”
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