Long prison sentence for former Thai PM will increase protest and terrorism risks

Former Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra receives roses as she leaves the Supreme Court in Bangkok on 1 August. Source: Lillian Suwanrumpha/AFP/Getty Images
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Internationally respected defence publication Janes Intelligence Weekly believes that an extended prison sentence for former Thai PM YIngluck Shinawatra will increase activism and the possibility of terror attacks in Thailand.

Key Points

  • The Thai court’s previous verdicts against Pheu Thai suggests that former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra will most probably be found guilty by the Supreme Court on 25 August over charges of negligence in the handling of her government’s rice-pledging scheme.

  • A jail sentence would increase the risk of impromptu protests at multiple government sites in Bangkok and of crude improvised explosive device (IED) attacks in the city.

  • This scenario would also increase public sympathy for the former prime minister and the Pheu Thai ahead of elections in late 2018.

  • Support for a protest movement by the Pheu Thai leadership and counter-protests by pro-military groups would indicate growing risk of protests turning violent.

Event

Intensified clampdown on the Pheu Thai indicates that Thailand’s military government is increasingly concerned about former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s upcoming trial verdict triggering mass unrest.

Thailand’s national telecommunications regulator on 10 August suspended the Pheu Thai-affiliated Peace TV for one month.

The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) claimed that the cancelling of Peace TV’s broadcasting licence was based on two programmes aired in July that allegedly contained “content dealing with plots to undermine the constitutional monarchy”.

Peace TV’s suspension appears to be part of a broader recent clampdown by the military government on the Pheu Thai and its support group, the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD/Red Shirts).

Over the past month, the government has charged prominent journalist Pravit Rojanaphruk and former cabinet ministers Pichai Naripthaphan and Watana Muangsook with sedition – a charge carrying a seven-year prison sentence – for four Facebook posts critical of the military.

In addition, members of Pheu Thai and the UDD have reported being harassed by security officials at home and at work. – Janes Intelligence Weekly

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