Surachai Sae Dan (Surachai Danwattananusorn)

Surachai

In March 2009, police summonsed of political activist and political prisoner from 1976, Surachai Danwattananusorn (aka Surachai Sae Dan). An anti-government activist,  Surachai was accused of lese majeste in a speech he made at a public rally on 15 December 2008 at Sanam Luang. He reported to the police on 10 March 2009 but was not been detained.

When 18 “non-core” UDD members surrendered to police on various charges related to the 2009 Songkhran Uprising, Surachai Danwattananusorn, a former member of the  Communist Party of Thailand, also turned himself in. He dressed in communist party-like garb. The Nation has a report on that surrender to police.

In October 2010, the Abhisit Vejjajiva government decided to press ahead with further lese majeste charges against Surachai, reportedly from  rally speeches in 2010. Public prosecutors decided to file a writ charging the anti-coup activist. The courts accepted the case.

Surachai, who was 68 in 2010, was a political activist in the 1970s and a political prisoner from 1976. He joined the anti-coup movement in 2006 and was part of the red shirt movement from its beginning, although he formed Red Siam in 2009 and had an on-again, off-again relationship with the mainstream red shirts until 2010, when his small group detached itself from the main red shirt demonstrations in March-May 2010.

Surachai at the police station

Red Siam is said to include fellow lese majeste accused Jakrapop Penkair. Red Siam was mentioned by Jonathan Manthorpe in a Vancouver Sun article where he stated that Abhisit government officials claimed a supposedly “ultramilitant breakaway group” from the main red shirts, Red Siam, was responsible for unexplained bombings in Bangkok.

Surachai was arrested in the early morning hours of 22 February 2011 in Nonthaburi and taken to police cells to be charged on lese majeste for a speech he gave in December 2010. The Criminal Court approved a police request to remand Surachai until 5 March. He is charged with lese majeste for his public speech on 18 December 2010 during a red-shirt event “The 2nd Eye Opening Talk” at the Imperial Mall Lad Phrao.

It is reported in Prachatai that “Surachai said that when the police approached to arrest him, a small skirmish occurred as he thought that he was under attack.” He adds: “I’ve never experienced an arrest like this.  In fact, they could just make a phone call, and I’ll show up, because I’m already prepared…”. He added that he was prepared because “he had been informed that the arrest warrant had been issued since January, but no summons had been delivered.  He had received a summons concerning another lèse majesté case in Chiang Mai, but it had been cancelled as, he thought, the Department of Special Investigation had taken over all his cases.”

As has been reported elsewhere, Surachai “said that he had been prepared to fight the case and probably a few more.  He will not just fight for his release.  He will neither confess nor deny the charges, but will fight for changes, including abolition of Section 112 of the Criminal Code which deals with lèse majesté.”

He added that he was not worried about bail because he will fight for change: “I want to make changes.  I want to send a signal to those high above that the current crisis of faith in the high institutions is very strong. A civil war will occur if this government is still allowed to stay.  It has been looming since the events at Ratchaprasong.  If things are allowed to go on this way, it will certainly become like what’s happening in the Middle East.  So it doesn’t matter if I am released or not, but today Thailand has to change.  Those high above must find a way out of the country’s problems…”. He refused to give any “evidence to the police.”

In early April 2011, however, Surachai’s wife stated in a public forum that “her husband’s mental condition was good, but his physical condition was not good because of his age and the environment in the prison. Surachai’s latest petition asking for  bail has been rejected, and now he feels that he will probably never be released. His wife said that her husband had written a will and given it to her in case he died in prison.”

Surachai was refused bail several times. This process of refusing bail led to Surachai taking a strategic decision to plead guilty. However, he maintains that he did not defame as alleged. In January 2012, he stuck to this plan, pleading guilty on three charges from Chiang Mai and Bangkok in 2010. He has decided to fight a fourth charge stemming from the late 2008 speech.

On 28 February 2012, incarcerated but unbowed, and a year after his arrest and jailing, 71 year-old Surachai was sentenced to 15 years in jail for speeches made in late 2010. This was halved for his guilty plea.

The court, as is common in lese majeste cases, was reportedly exceptionally biased in sentencing, mentioning events from many years in the past that are highly disputed, and related to a previous case where Surachai was jailed for several years before being pardoned. This was unsurprisingly as the judges in the case led by the notorious Chanathip Muanpawong who, late in 2011, convicted Ampol Tangnopakul to 20 years and Darunee Charnchoensilpakul to 15 years on lese majeste charges.

On 27 April 2012, Surachai was sentenced to a further 5 years in jail. The court halved this sentence because of his guilty plea on the previous charges.

On 17 May 2012, Surachai was hospitalized and scheduled for a prostrate operation. He came out of jail and hospital to be sentenced on yet one more charge on 28 May 2012. He received a further 5 years, reduced by half, for a speech on 15 December 2008. That’s a total of 12.5 years in jail.

In August 2012 it was reported that Surachai was returned to prison after having undergone a prostrate treatment at the Police General Hospital from 25 July. It was also reported that his sentence had been reduced by 2 years. That would mean that this aged and sick man can expect to be released when he is in his 80s.

Surachai filed for a royal pardon on 20 August 2012. More than a year later, on 3 October 2013, it was reported that he had been pardoned.

Media reports on Surachai’s case:

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 3 October 2013: “Thai activist convicted of defaming king pardoned

Bangkok Post, 3 October 2013: “Surachai to be freed on royal pardon

Edmonton Journal, 3 October 2013: “Thai political activist convicted of defaming monarchy receives royal pardon

The Nation, 23 July 2013: “Somyos to seek bail for 15th time; Red Siam man may face new charge

Prachatai, 23 August 2012: “Release of two lèse majesté convicts today delayed

Bangkok Post, 6 August 2012: “LM convict’s mum wants him bailed

MCOT News, 28 May 2012: “Red Siam leader gets 2.6 more years jail for lese majeste

Bangkok Post, 28 May 2012: “Surachai jailed for lese majeste

Prachatai, 24 May 2012: “Surachai hospitalized

The Nation, 28 April 2012: “Red leader jailed for lese majeste

Bangkok Post, 27 April 2012: “2.5 years for lese majeste

MCOT News, 27 April 2012: “Jailed ‘Red Siam’ leader gets added jail term for lese majeste

Prachatai, 6 March 2012: “Surachai will ask PM to seek royal pardon for political prisoners

See PPT’s list of reports on Surachai’s conviction here.

Prachatai, 29 February 2012: “Surachai gets 7.5 years in prison

BBC News, 28 February 2012: “Thailand activist jailed for royal insult

Reuters, 28 February 2012: “Thai court jails activist in latest royal insult trial

The Nation, 28 February 2012: “Surachai convicted for lese majeste

Bangkok Post, 24 January 2012: “Lese majeste defendant pleads guilty

Bangkok Post, 30 November 2011: “Confessing is sensible — but I didn’t do it

Prachatai, 19 November 2011: “Surachai wants to combine all cases and will plead guilty

Prachatai, 6 November 2011: “Surachai denied bail

Bangkok Post, 20 August 2011: “Red shirt leaders denied bail

Prachatai, 5 April 2011: “Another campaign against Article 112 and to free 220 Thai prisoners under lèse majestè charges”

Prachatai, 23 February 2011: “Surachai vows to fight for change”

The Nation, 22 October 2010: “Surachai to stand trial for lese majeste”

Channel 6 News (NYC, USA), 21 October 2010: “Red Siam leader indicted for insulting Thai monarchy”

Bangkok Post, 21 October 2010: “Red Surachai indicted for lese majeste”

The Straits Times, 21 October 2010: “Red Siam leader indicted”

People’s Daily Online, 21 October 2010: “Red-shirts leader indicted for lese-majeste”

Prachatai, 14 March 2009: “Red-shirted activist summoned by police for lèse majesté offence”

53 responses

28 04 2009
Updated: Beating the communist drum « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] When 18 “non-core” UDD members surrendered to police on various charges, Surachai Danwattananusorn, a former member of the  Communist Party of Thailand, also turned himself in. He […]

3 09 2010
Red Siam « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] has a Reuters story worth reading. It focuses on lese majeste accused Surachai Danwattananusorn or Surachai Sae Dan. Surachai is described as a “former communist and political prisoner,” and is said to […]

21 10 2010
Surachai to go to court on lese majeste « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] by the decision of the public prosecutors to file a writ “charging anti-coup activist Surachai Danwattananusorn, aka Surachai Sae Dan, for making libellous remarks against the monarchy.” The courts have […]

23 10 2010
News reports on Surachai’s lese majeste case « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] has located the following stories on the lese majeste case facing Surachai Sae Dan (Surachai […]

21 02 2011
Surachai arrested on lese majeste charges | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] tell us that Surachai Sae Dan, leader of Red Siam, has been arrested on lese majeste charges and is at Chokchai Si police station […]

28 02 2011
Red shirts, lese majeste and regime strategy | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] doing deals with the government that involve selling out more “radical” red shirts like Surachai Sae Dan while pushing aside and diminishing the innovative actions by Sombat Boonngamanong. There are other […]

2 03 2011
Reds struggling under charter : New chief - Page 2 - TeakDoor.com - The Thailand Forum

[…] doing deals with the government that involve selling out more “radical” red shirts like Surachai Sae Dan while pushing aside and diminishing the innovative actions by Sombat Boonngamanong. There are other […]

6 03 2011
Kasit at the U.N. Human Rights Council | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] up political opponents and exercises power through laws and courts that are politically biased (see here, here and here). While the regime recently released seven red shirt leaders on bail after X months […]

8 04 2011
Surachai denied bail | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] News reports that the Criminal Court has rejected a bail application by ‘Red Siam leader Surachai Danwattananusorn who is held on lese majeste […]

10 06 2011
Keeping red shirt opponents locked up | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] and blunt article regarding the Appeals Court decision to again reject “a bail request filed by Surachai Danwattananusorn, the Red Siam Group core member, who has been charged with lese majeste.” Despite having a 2 […]

24 08 2011
Update on Surachai and Somyos | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Bangkok Post reports that yet another bail request for Somyos Prueksakasemsuk and Surachai Sae Dan (Danwattananusorn) has been rejected. Both are accused of lese […]

15 10 2011
Update on Surachai’s lese majeste case | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] the Prachatai story cited in an earlier PPT post, the details of state prosecutors charges against Surachai Danwattananusorn faces are listed. We reproduce that below. It is clear that Surachai, now in his late 60s, faces […]

15 10 2011
Timetable for lese majeste court cases | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Surachai Danwattananusorn […]

17 10 2011
Da Torpedo in court « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] which was elected by the power of the red-shirt members. There are also other people such as Surachai and Somyot who should be also included in the […]

1 11 2011
Somyos again denied bail « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Criminal Court will tomorrow decide whether to grant bail for Surachai Sae Dan, another red-shirt supporter charged with lese […]

30 11 2011
Lese majeste victim Surachai speaks « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] the Bangkok Post reports on an interview with lese majeste victim Surachai Danwattananusorn. He repeated that he denied the lese majeste charges against […]

5 01 2012
Surachai, lese majeste and freedom « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Nation reports that the “Prachatai website has published a letter from red-shirt leader Surachai Danwattananusorn, calling for freedom for himself and many fellow red shirts still in […]

20 01 2012
Lese majeste victims threaten hunger strike « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] words of the Post, the hunger strike “threat was conveyed to the Corrections Department by Surachai Daneattananusorn, Daranee “Da Torpedo” Chanrncherngsilapakul, Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, and Ampon […]

20 01 2012
Lese majeste victims threaten hunger strike « Political Prisoners of Thailand's Blog

[…] In the words of the Post, the hunger strike “threat was conveyed to the Corrections Department by Surachai Daneattananusorn, Daranee “Da Torpedo” Chanrncherngsilapakul, Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, and Ampon Tangnoppakul, […]

23 01 2012
Lèse majesté prisoners threaten hunger strike over new prison-PPT « FACT – Freedom Against Censorship Thailand

[…] In the words of the Post, the hunger strike “threat was conveyed to the Corrections Department by Surachai Daneattananusorn, Daranee “Da Torpedo” Chanrncherngsilapakul, Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, and Ampon Tangnoppakul, […]

24 01 2012
Lese majeste victim Surachai pleads guilty « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Surachai Danwattananusorn‘s earlier statements, more than two months ago, it is no surprise to learn from the Bangkok […]

24 01 2012
Lese majeste victim Surachai pleads guilty « Political Prisoners of Thailand's Blog

[…] Surachai Danwattananusorn‘s earlier statements, more than two months ago, it is no surprise to learn from the Bangkok […]

28 02 2012
Surachai convicted on lese majeste « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] The Nation it is reported that the Criminal Court has sentenced Red Siam Group leader Surachai Danwattananusorn on lese majeste charges. As readers will know, Surachai, after almost a year in jail without bail, […]

28 02 2012
Surachai convicted on lese majeste « Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] The Nation it is reported that the Criminal Court has sentenced Red Siam Group leader Surachai Danwattananusorn on lese majeste charges. As readers will know, Surachai, after almost a year in jail without bail, […]

29 02 2012
Reporting Surachai’s lese majeste conviction « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] thought readers might be interested in a round-up of reporting on Surachai Danwattananusorn‘s conviction and sentencing to 15 years on lese majeste, reduced by half because of his […]

29 02 2012
Reporting Surachai’s lese majeste conviction « Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] thought readers might be interested in a round-up of reporting on Surachai Danwattananusorn‘s conviction and sentencing to 15 years on lese majeste, reduced by half because of his […]

6 03 2012
Free the political prisoners! « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Prachatai, there is a report that political jailed activist Surachai Danwattananusorn is about to “petition the government to seek a royal pardon for all political prisoners […]

7 03 2012
Free the political prisoners! « Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] Prachatai, there is a report that political jailed activist Surachai Danwattananusorn is about to “petition the government to seek a royal pardon for all political prisoners including […]

20 03 2012
Lese majeste on the international agenda « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] for international reporting, this account speaks with Surachai Danwattananusorn, recently sentenced to more than 7 years in jail on this draconian charge, and still facing more […]

20 03 2012
Lese majeste on the international agenda « Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] for international reporting, this account speaks with Surachai Danwattananusorn, recently sentenced to more than 7 years in jail on this draconian charge, and still facing more […]

23 03 2012
Free them! « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] seeking a pardon are: Surachai Danwatthananusorn (serving 7.5 years in prison), Suchart Nakbangsai (3 years), Joe Gordon (2 .5 years), Suriyan […]

23 03 2012
Free them! « Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] seeking a pardon are: Surachai Danwatthananusorn (serving 7.5 years in prison), Suchart Nakbangsai (3 years), Joe Gordon (2 .5 years), Suriyan […]

21 04 2012
Thailand Awaits Pivotal Verdict on Liability for Internet Intermediaries | ChrisInMaryville's Blog

[…] reports that veteran activist Surachai Danwattananusorn, denied bail and sentenced to seven years in prison under lèse majesté, intends to seek a royal […]

21 04 2012
Thailand Awaits Pivotal Verdict on Liability for Internet Intermediaries | GrassrootsHeadlines.com

[…] reports that veteran activist Surachai Danwattananusorn, denied bail and sentenced to seven years in prison under lèse majesté, intends to seek a royal […]

27 04 2012
Surachai slammed with another lese majeste jail term « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Yingluck Shinawatra government is increasingly seen as having sold out red shirts, Red Siam leader Surachai Danwattananusorn has been given another 2.5 years in jail on lese majeste charges. This brings his total sentence to […]

28 04 2012
Surachai slammed with another lese majeste jail term « Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] Yingluck Shinawatra government is increasingly seen as having sold out red shirts, Red Siam leader Surachai Danwattananusorn has been given another 2.5 years in jail on lese majeste charges. This brings his total sentence to […]

5 05 2012
Journalists everywhere waiting for Chiranuch’s verdict-EFF « FACT – Freedom Against Censorship Thailand

[…] reports that veteran activist Surachai Danwattananusorn, denied bail and sentenced to seven years in prison under lèse majesté, intends to seek a royal […]

28 05 2012
Surachai sentenced (again) « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Surachai Sae Dan (Surachai Danwattananusorn) […]

6 08 2012
Mothers and lese majeste detainees « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Surachai Sae Dan (Surachai Danwattananusorn) […]

6 08 2012
Mothers and lese majeste detainees « Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] Surachai Danwattananusorn has been returned to prison after prostate treatment at the Police General Hospital that began on 25 July. He also received a “a one-fifth reduction of his sentence as a result of Mother’s Day.” This means he will be in in his 80s when released. […]

18 09 2012
Lese majeste and elite (in)justice « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Surachai Sae Dan (Surachai Danwattananusorn) […]

18 09 2012
Lese majeste and elite (in)justice « Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] and Wanchai Saetan have suffered similar refusals of bail. She could have added Joe Gordon, Surachai Danwattananusorn and several others to the […]

16 11 2012
Updated: Difference II « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Surachai Sae Dan (Surachai Danwattananusorn) […]

16 11 2012
Updated: Difference II « Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] ridiculous lese majeste charges? HRW should be demanding the release of Darunee Charnchoensilpakul, Surachai Danwattananusorn, Tanthawut Taweewarodomkul, Somyos Pruksakasemsuk and […]

5 12 2012
Lese majeste not forgotten « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Surachai Sae Dan (Surachai Danwattananusorn) […]

5 12 2012
Lese majeste not forgotten « Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] Nicolaides, Nat Sattayapornpisut, Papatchanan Ching-in, Sathian Rattanawong, Suchart Nakbangsai, Surachai Danwattananusorn, Suriyan Kokpuey, Suwicha Thakor, Tanthawut Taweewarodomkul, Uthai (family name unknown), and […]

23 07 2013
News on Somyos and Surachai | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] the all too depressing lese majeste cases of Somyos Prueksakasemsuk and Surachai Danwattananusorn, The Nation reports on some developments, neither likely to reduce the […]

23 07 2013
News on Somyos and Surachai | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] the all too depressing lese majeste cases of Somyos Prueksakasemsuk and Surachai Danwattananusorn, The Nation reports on some developments, neither likely to reduce the […]

3 10 2013
Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] has received one email and seen one story reporting that Surachai Danwattananusorn, or Surachai Sae Dan, has received a pardon from the palace and that he was due to be released. The […]

3 10 2013
Surachai gets pardon | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] has received one email and seen one story reporting that Surachai Danwattananusorn, or Surachai Sae Dan, has received a pardon from the palace and that he was due to be released. The […]

3 10 2013
Surachai gets pardon | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] has received one email and seen one story reporting that Surachai Danwattananusorn, or Surachai Sae Dan, has received a pardon from the palace and that he was due to be released. The […]

7 10 2013
With a major update: Remembering the 6 October 1976 attack | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] recently released lese majeste convicts attended. Surachai Danwattananusorn was only released from prison last Friday but attended. Also there was Tanthawut Taweewarodomkul, […]

7 10 2013
Remembering the 6 October 1976 attack | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] recently released lese majeste convicts attended. Surachai Danwattananusorn was only released from prison last Friday but attended. Also there was Tanthawut Taweewarodomkul, […]




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