Coup leaders in Thailand summon activists, academics
BANGKOK — In a chilling move apparently aimed at neutralizing critics and potential opposition, Thailand’s new army junta on Saturday ordered dozens of outspoken activists, academics, and journalists to turn themselves over to military authorities.
The junta, which is already holding most of the government officials it ousted in a coup Thursday in secret locations against their will said it would keep the former prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, and others in custody for up to a week to give them ‘‘time to think’’ and keep the country calm.
Two days after the army seized power in the nation’s first coup in eight years, it also faced scattered protests that came amid growing concern over the junta’s intentions.
Also Saturday, the military dissolved the Senate, the last functioning democratic institution left, and absorbed its legislative powers.
‘‘Military rule has thrown Thailand’s rights situation into a free fall,’’ said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. ‘‘The army is using Draconian martial law powers to detain politicians, activists, and journalists, to censor media, and to ban all public gatherings. This rolling crackdown needs to come to an end immediately.’’
At least 100 people, mostly top politicians, have been detained incommunicado so far. Deputy army spokesman Colonel Weerachon Sukondhapatipak said they were all being well treated and the military’s aim was to achieve a political compromise.
Weerachon said all those held have had their cellphones confiscated because ‘‘we don’t want them communicating with other people. We want them to be themselves and think on their own.’’
In a military order broadcast at the start of the day, the junta summoned 35 more people, including politicians, political activists and, for the first time, outspoken academics, and some journalists.
One of those on the list, Pavin Chachavalpongpun, a professor of Southeast Asian studies at Kyoto University, said by telephone from Japan that he would not turn himself in. Chachavalpongpun said the summons meant that the junta feels insecure.