Army demands legal action against separatism instigator


CHIANG MAI, Mar 3 – The Thai army today lodged complaints at two police stations in this northern province against a leader of a pro-government group on charges of separatism.

The suspect, identified Petchawat Watanapongsirikul, a leader of the Love Chiang Mai 51 Group, allegedly violated Thailand’s criminal law for his role in an attempted separation of the northern and northeastern regions of Thailand.

The army’s written complaints, submitted by two army officers to Mae Ping and Muang police stations in Chiang Mai, stated that it had photographic evidence of the banner for a new country, to be called Lanna, on a pedestrian overpass in the province.

The army’s evidence also included a recorded interview of Mr Petchawat who said the group has discussed the separation for over six months.

Mr Petchawat said he did not intend as understood but he merely wanted a separate administrative system in accord with the democratic system under the monarchy.

He likened the administrative separation to the one-country-two-systems model of China and Hong Kong.

Col Winthai Suvaree, army deputy spokesman, said army judge advocates were instructed to file charges against key red shirt leaders in Phayao and Chiang Mai provinces for their separatism activities.

Referring to caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s statement that the army should treat all political factions fairly and equally, he said the Centre for Maintaining Peace and Order and the government have taken legal action in over 100 cases against the anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee.

“The army does not take sides. Neither does it allow anyone to instigate separatism or set up civilian forces. We don’t want Thai people to fight against each other,” he said.