Free the seniors: Netizens demand release of elderly mushroom-pluckers

It can happen to anyone. Next time you set out into the woods in search of some tasty mushrooms, be sure it’s not swarming with cops on the hunt for tree poachers.

Although one of them has been released for health reasons, an elderly couple sent to prison for 15 years has upset Thai netizens who are calling for their release in a campaign against what they believe is an injustice.

Last week the Facebook page Youclip started a photo campaign to help free Udom and Dang Sirisorn, 51 and 48 of Isan’s Kalasin province, who have been charged for illegally logging in a protected forest while plucking mushrooms for the family’s dinner table.

The couple claimed they went into the Dong Gradang Forest in July 2010 and were caught up in a police operation to arrest illegal woodcutters. The authorities tracked down their motorcycle license number and arrested the couple for a crime they deny committing.

The story has upset the Thai online communities on Pantip and popular Facebook pages as netizens second-guess and disapprove of the authorities’ judgment in the case.

Over 1,000 followers of YouClip have joined the photo campaign and submitted photos of their hands with the message “FREE mushroom-collecting grandpa/grandma” written on their palms to symbolically give a hand to the poor couple.

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