Two 8-year-old girls charged in Thailand for tearing referendum voter lists

'The two girls were just playing around without realising what documents those were,' Thai Police chief said. (Representative image) Photograph:( Getty )

Reuters Kamphaeng Phet Jul 24, 2016, 08.44 AM (IST)
Two eight-year-old girls in Thailand have been charged for violating campaigning rules ahead of a contentious referendum next month after tearing voter lists off a wall because they liked the pink paper they were printed on, police said today. 

The military government has clamped down on dissent ahead of the August 7 vote on a military-backed constitution that it says will ensure stability in a country rocked by political turmoil for more than a decade.

The girls were charged with obstructing the referendum process and destroying public property after tearing down the lists posted outside a school, said Damrong Phetpong, police commander in the northern province of Kamphaeng Phet.

"We now understand the issues why it was happened. The two girls were just playing around without realising what documents those were," he said, adding they would not face punishment because they were so young.

The referendum will be the first big test of the public's opinion of the military government since it came to power after a May 2014 coup.

Critics, including major political parties, say the draft charter would give the military too much power over elected governments, and would not resolve differences between populist political forces and the military-dominated establishment.

The government, which appears increasingly jittery ahead of the vote, has brought in a law banning discussion of the constitution and lobbying, both for and against, with a 10-year prison sentence for anyone who breaks it.