Opinion: Thailand needs more people like Ekkachai Hongkangwan

Three people have been arrested and charged with Article 110 of the criminal code for infringing on Her Majesty the Queen’s freedom. If found guilty they face life in prison.

The youngest was Bunkueanun “Francis” Paothong who has received bail. Suranat Paenprasert has been charged and there was a warrant out for his arrest. But Ekkachai Hongkangwan, who turned himself in, still sits in jail.

Why are the authorities afraid of Ekkachai more than others? One thing is clear, Ekkachai is not short of courage or conviction. He voluntarily gave up his freedom because he is not a rebel or someone looking to start an insurrection but someone with the conviction of his beliefs.

If you look at his past, from his time with the red shirts to releasing WikiLeaks data and reports on Thai politics, Ekkachai has been a man of principle. He was imprisoned for three years for fighting for a cause he believed in. While in jail, he was the prison’s librarian and helped prisoners grow political awareness.

When he was released he continued to fight with the NCPO, he did not retreat from his beliefs despite his jail sentence. He raised public awareness about Prawit Wongsuwan’s luxury watch scandal, he went to government house to confront the deputy prime minister. He pushed forward issues that no one else dared to confront including army corruption, government corruption, the suppression of rights, the arrests of dissidents.

For his trouble he was jailed, beaten, intimidated, his family was confronted by unknown actors, but it never discouraged him for fighting for what’s right.

Now he faces life in prison for a crime he did not committ. During the day of the motorcade, he was not even aware the queen was in the area. Now the state has an excuse to prosecute him and get rid of a nuisance forever.

But his voice will not be silenced. We will remember him. Thailand needs more people like Ekkachai. Let us not forget his story.

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