Future Forward braces for the worst in court’s ruling
Members and supporters of Future Forward Party have started arriving at the party’s headquarters in the Thai Summit Tower on New Phetchaburi Road to follow the Constitutional Court’s ruling on charges that it has engaged in activities detrimental to the democratic system under the monarchy.
An army of journalists have also turned up for what is seen as a historical political case which could determine the future of the young political party.
Party spokeswoman Pannikar Wanich said on Monday that the party will call a press conference after the court delivers its verdict. The party has prepared a live video link from the Constitutional Court for its supporters to follow the ruling.
The party is accused of attempting to undermine Thailand’s democratic system under the monarchy. The charges stem from what critics of the party see as its executives’ political narratives critical of the monarchy. They also pointed out that the party’s policy platform doesn’t say specifically that it supports democracy under the monarchy.
The party is also accused of following in the footsteps of an obscure secret society known as “Illuminati”. Active in 1700’s, it was alleged to be behind campaigns to overthrow monarchies in Europe and influence American declaration of independence.
The charges, which its leader Thanathorn Jungroongruangkit dismissed as “nonsense” were filed by Dr. Natthaporn Toprayoon, a lawyer and a former advisor to the ombudsman.
Natthaporn alleges that the party’s top executives, especially Thanathorn, have consistently made comments hostile to the monarchy – a charge that they have staunchly denied and dismissed as part of a political persecution orchestrated by the military against them. Thanathorn is also alleged to have financed a news magazine critical of the Monarchy.
Natthaporn asked the court to consider dissolving the party which he alleges has violated Article 49 of the Constitution. The article prohibits any activities that could undermine the democratic system under the monarchy.
The Constitution Court has declined to conduct a full inquiry and to hear defence from Future Forward Party, insisting that it has already had all the necessary information to rule on the case. Thanathorn interpreted it as a sign that bodes ill for the party. But some legal experts see it differently, believing that the court might have found the charges against the party to be so flimsy that it would not have to hear the defence or additional evidence.
On the eve of the verdict, Amnesty International called on the Thai government to cease what it alleges to be legal intimidation of the Future Forward Party. It wants to see all charges filed against the party withdrawn.
As a signatory to several international human rights treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Amnesty International said that Thai authorities must adhere to the principle that every individual has the right to free expression, peaceful assembly and association.