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Soldiers Arrest Thai Politician As He Speaks Out Against Coup

Former Thai Education Minister Chaturon Chaisang (center) was detained by soldiers after speaking at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand in Bangkok on Tuesday.
Apichart Weerawong
Former Thai Education Minister Chaturon Chaisang (center) was detained by soldiers after speaking at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand in Bangkok on Tuesday.

A former minister of Thailand's ousted Cabinet was detained Tuesday at a news conference at which he criticized the coup that took control of the country last week. The arrest comes as another detained official — ousted Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra — was released.

From Bangkok, Michael Sullivan reports for our Newscast unit:

"Former Education Minister Chaturon Chaisang came out of hiding to speak to journalists at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand, where he defiantly denounced the coup makers and warned that resistance to the coup would continue and with it, the possibility of violence that would be 'a disaster for this country.'

"He said he had no intention of reporting to the authorities as ordered. So men with guns came to him instead — entering the Club while he was speaking and bundling him into a van that took him away.

"His appearance was the first in public by any member of the deposed government since the coup took place, though most of the senior members of the previous government had already been detained. The army continues to conduct raids on houses and businesses of supporters of the deposed government. One soldier was killed yesterday in one such operation."

Before he was arrested, Chaturon told journalists, "A coup d'etat is not a solution to the problems of conflict in Thai society. But it will make the conflict even worse, and ... it may lead to violence. A coup is unacceptable, it is an abrogation of democracy."

That's according to the Bangkok Post, which also notes that Chaturon has previously been banned from politics, after Thailand's last coup in 2006.

Chaturon's arrest comes as the military junta that now rules Thailand released former leader Yingluck Shinawatra, who had been taken to an army camp on Friday after reporting to a meeting at a military compound.

Yingluck has now been allowed to return to her home; The Phuket News says she was among several officials released Tuesday. The newspaper also reports that tourism officials are asking for a looser curfew than the current 10 p.m. – 5 a.m. rule requiring people to stay indoors.

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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