BANGKOK – Thailand held a referendum Sunday on a new constitution amid severe restrictions imposed by the military junta. After drafting the new constitution, which critics say will entrench the military and dilute democracy, the government banned any criticism or campaigning against the charter.
A look at the restrictions that the junta has imposed overall since taking power in a May 2014 coup:
— Order No. 3/2558: Prohibits “political gatherings of five or more persons” and allows up to six months’ jail for violation. The order also allows appointed military officers to detain people without charge or trial in unofficial places of detention for up to a week without judicial oversight.
— The Constitutional Referendum Act: Provides for up to 10 years’ imprisonment for “anyone who disseminates text, pictures or sounds that are inconsistent with the truth or in a violent, aggressive, rude, inciting or threatening manner aimed at preventing a voter from casting a ballot or vote in any direction or to not vote.” At least three university events organized to discuss the referendum were canceled.
— Announcement 39/2557: Restricts the political activities of a wide range of individuals, including politicians and civil society representatives, after their release from detention.
— Announcement 41/2559: Gives the independent National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission authority to shut down television or radio stations if they violate junta orders. This order was used to shut down Peace TV, a television station affiliated with a political party that has opposed the draft constitution.
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