Police harass human rights defenders (again)

29 08 2016

As is all too common these days under Thailand’s military dictatorship, we reproduce an Asian Human Rights Commission call for urgent action on the repression of human rights defenders:

29 August 2016

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THAILAND: Six more human rights defenders summoned by police for exercising their freedom of expression

ISSUES: Administration of justice; arbitrary arrest; freedom of expression; military
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Dear Friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received updated information regarding three young activists, one local land rights defender, and two human rights documentation officers from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), who have been summoned for charges after organizing a constitution related event in the Northeast of Thailand. According to TLHR, all six of them were accused of violating the Head of the NCPO Order No. 3/2015, which bans a political gathering of five persons or more.

CASE NARRATIVE: (Based on the documentation by TLHR)

On 31 July 2016, student activists held a public discussion called ‘Talk for Freedom on the Draft Constitution’, prior to the August 7 Constitutional Referendum Day, at Khon Kaen University in Khon Kaen, northeastern province of Thailand. Despite many attempts to stop the event by authorities, including threats of filing legal actions against the organizers, the activists continued holding the discussion which took place with a strong presence of uniformed and plainclothed military and police.

On 17 August 2016, police issued summons to six individuals including three young activists, one local land rights defender, and two human rights documentation officers from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR). The summons indicated that the police called them to report for charges of violating the Head of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Order No. 3/2015 (a ban on political of five persons or more). They will report themselves as summoned on 31 August 2016, 10:00, at Khon Kaen Police Station.

One of the six is Mr. Jatupat Boonpattararaksa (aka. Pai), prominent young activist of the Dao Din student activists in the Northeast and member of the New Democracy Movement (NDM), who was recently released on bail from 18 days in detention, with 13 days of hunger strike in two different cases relating to his exercise of peaceful assembly. Mr. Jatupat Boonpattararaksa and the other two student activists, Mr. Chatmongkol Jenchiewchan and Mr. Narongrit Oopachan, have worked closely with local communities in various northeastern provinces, particularly on protecting their community rights and advocating for human rights and social justice. In addition, Ms. Duangthip Karnrit and Ms. Neeranuch Niemsub, the two TLHR staff and Ms. Nutthapon Ardharn, local land rights defender, were summoned for the charges even though they were there to only observe the activity, and clearly identified themselves to the officers in the field.

If indicted, the six human rights defenders will be tried in a military court and shall face up to six months of imprisonment or a fine not exceeding 10,000 Baht (approx. USD 285).

According to Pol.Maj. Chirattikul Charatkamolpong, inquiry officer of Khon Kaen Police Station, the summons dated 11 August 2016 was sent to the six human rights defenders for charges of violation the Head of the NCPO Order No. 3/2015 which bans a political gathering of five persons or more. The summons ordered them to report to police on 18 August 2016. However, Mr. Jatupat Boonpattararaksa was then detained at a prison in Phu Khiao District of Chaiyaphum province on charges against the Constitutional Referendum Act for allegedly distributing the Vote-No leaflets to public on 6 August 2016 (For more information, please follow this link http://www.humanrights.asia/ news/urgent-appeals/AHRC-UAC- 099-2016). Therefore, lawyers from TLHR requested a postponement to 31 August 2016, 10:00, at the Khon Kaen Police Station.
The six will hear details of charges and accusations against them only when they report to the police.

Before the activity on July 31 took place, the authorities including the Khon Kaen University had tried to stop it by threatening the student activists with legal actions under the Referendum Act, the offence of trespassing into a public premise, the NCPO’s ban on political gathering, and even the Public Assembly Act, which does not apply to an assembly in an educational institution.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

The following are the names and short profiles of the six human rights defenders:

1. Mr. Jatupat Boonpattaraksa (Pai), 25 years old, law student, Khon Kaen University, member of the Dao Din and the E-san New Democracy Movement (NDM)
Background: He joined the Dao Din student activist group in 2010, when studying law at Khon Kaen University, Faculty of Law. The Dao Din and he have been working closely with several groups of community-based human rights defenders, for instance the Khon Rak Baan Kerd (KRBK), a community-based campaign against gold-mining in Loei province, the community-based campaign against potash mining and the Baan Lao Klue village campaign against a high-voltage electric project in Udon Thani province. His activism has continued to be one tightly linked to community-based struggles for social justice such as joining communities campaigning against the noise and air pollution by a tapioca factory on Nampong district, Khon Kaen province. In 2013, the Dao Din student group was awarded ‘Role Model of the Youth Award’ for having contributed to the development of humanity. The award was awarded by the Channel 9 (OMCT) programme, ‘People Searching about Other People’. After the 2014 coup, Jatupat has continued his struggle for justice and democracy with the Dao Din and the New Democracy Movement (NDM). He has been facing four cases, all related to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, including charges of sedition, violating the junta’s ban on political gathering from protesting against the junta and military regime, violating the Referendum Act for campaigning to reject the junta constitution.

2. Mr. Chatmonkol Jenchiawchan, 20 years old, law student, Khon Kaen University, member of the Dao Din
Background: Starting with the Dao Din and previously has participated in the ‘Walk for Right’ for the people in E-san helping as a security guard to ensure safety of the marchers. He has made comments during a public seminar voicing his opposition to the arrests made against critics of the Draft Constitution. The seminar “Getting to know the Draft Constitution for a proper referendum voting” was organized by the Constitutional Drafting Committee (CDC) at the Faculty of Law, Khon Kaen University. After making the comment and while leaving the room, he was apprehended by military officials who asked to have a talk with him.

3. Mr. Narongrit Oopachan, 21 years old, student of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Science, Khon Kaen University, member of the New Generation Civic Group and Mekong Study Group
Background: He volunteers with the Mekong Study Group while studying in university. An independent group, the Mekong Study Group has been involved with the campaign on community rights work and human rights violation in the provinces of Udonthani, Nong Khai and Sakon Nakhon, where large scale potash mining has been vehemently pushed for. As a member of the New Generation Civic Group, he has been involved with organizing political activities including the “speak for freedom” event jointly organized with the E-san New Democracy Movement (NDM).

4. Ms. Nutthapon Ardharn, 34 years old, a member of the New E-san Group and volunteer of the Center for Human Rights Law for Society
Background: Graduated with a masters degree from the Faculty of Journalism and Mass Communication, Thammasat University, she has started her work as coordinator of public forum program for the Thai PBS. Quitting her job, she returned to her hometown in Kalasin and has since been keen on monitoring impact from petroleum exploration. She has helped to organize local villagers and they have formed a conservation group to monitor the situation in many areas.

5. Ms. Duangthip Karnrit, 29 years old, at present a documentation staff member of the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR)
Background: She has started her work with Green peace Thailand helping with fundraising and raising public awareness on impact from coal and nuclear energy and stimulating their interest in clean and alternative energy. She later joined the People’s Information Center (PIC) documenting about people who have been affected by the crackdown in 2010.

6. Ms. Neeranuch Niamsub, 47 years old, at present a documentation staff member of the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR)
Background: After obtaining her bachelor degree, she has started working with slum community in Klong Toey, Bangkok Port area, with Dung Pratheep Foundation to promote child care center in the shanty town of the capital city. She has also worked with community based organizations to demand the right to housing. Then, she has returned to live as a farmer in the Northeast continuing to work with local NGOs there and community based organizations on local wisdom. After the crackdown of the Red Shirt demonstrations in 2010, she has got to visit many of them who were incarcerated and their families as they were convicted for committing arson on the Provincial Hall of Mukdahan. They were helped to gain better access to the rights in judicial process. She has been involved with documentation and reporting of information of the impacts of the 2010 crackdown while helping the People’s Information Center (PIC).

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write letters to the authorities below, asking them to immediately withdraw the case and end any ongoing investigation into the six human rights defenders.
Please note that the Asian Human Rights Commission is writing a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and seeking his urgent intervention into this matter.

To support this case, please click here:

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear ___________,

THAILAND: Six more human rights defenders summoned by police for exercising their freedom of expression

Name of victim: 1. Mr. Jatupat Boonpattaraksa 2. Mr. Chatmonkol Jenchiawchan 3. Mr. Narongrit Oopachan 4. Ms. Nutthapon Ardharn 5. Ms. Duangthip Karnrit
6. Ms. Neeranuch Niamsub
Names of alleged perpetrators: Police
Date of incident: 31 July 2016 to the Present
Place of incident: Khon Kaen University in Khon Kaen, northeastern province of Thailand

I am writing to voice my deep concern regarding the act of judicial harassment against student activists and human rights defenders in Thailand. With regard to the July 31 seminar held by three student activists, Mr. Jatupat Boonpattaraksa, Mr. Chatmonkol Jenchiawchan and Mr. Narongrit Oopachan, at Khon Kaen University, I believe they attempted to exercise their rights to freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly by discussing the Draft Constitution in the run-up to the Referendum. In fact, ordinary persons should have been able to freely discuss and criticize the charter before making their decision to accept or reject it.

Furthermore, Ms. Natthapon Ardharn, Ms. Duangthip Karnrit (TLHR) and Ms. Neeranuch Niemsub (TLHR) only monitored the July 31 seminar and had no involvement with the organization team. The two TLHR staff clearly identified themselves with name tags while observing the activities, and identified themselves as observers with the authorities who were in charge of keeping law and order at the venue.

I wish to point out that the legal actions against the activists and observers are not only means to intimidate, harass and punish the human rights defenders individually, but have affected collectively the work of promotion and protection of human rights and freedoms of people. Further, documenting and reporting upon the human rights situation and violations in other provinces of Thailand will be more difficult.

Therefore, I would like to urge the Thai Government and authorities, including the Royal Thai Police, the Attorney General Office, the Judge Advocate General, the NCPO, to drop all charges against the activists and human rights defenders and end all acts of judicial harassment against them and all human rights defenders in Thailand.

Yours Sincerely,

……………….

PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. General Prayuth Chan-ocha
Prime Minister
Head of the National Council for Peace and Order
Rachadamnoen Nok Road
Bang Khun Phrom
Bangkok 10200
THAILAND
Tel: +662 283 4000
Fax: +662 282 5131
Email: panadda_d@opm.go.th

2. Pol. Gen. Chakthip Chaijinda
Commissioner General of the Royal Thai Police
Rama I Rd, Khwaeng Pathum Wan,
Khet Pathum Wan, Bangkok 10330
THAILAND
Tel: +662 2516 831
Fax: +662 2053 738

3. Pol.Sub.Lt. Pongniwat Yuthaphunboripahn
Deputy Attorney General.
The Office of the Attorney General
The Government Complex Commemorating His Majesty the King’s 80th Birthday Anniversary 5th December, B.E.2550 (2007), Building B 120 Moo 3
Chaengwattana Road
Thoongsonghong, Laksi Bangkok 10210
THAILAND
Tel: +662 142 1444
Fax: +662 143 9546
Email: ag@ago.go.th

4. Mr. What Tingsamitr
Chairman of National Human Rights Commission
The Government Complex Commemorating His Majesty the King’s 80th Birthday Anniversary 5th December
B.E.2550 (2007), Building B 120 Moo 3
Chaengwattana Road
Thoongsonghong, Laksi Bangkok 10210
THAILAND
Tel: +662 141 3800, +662 141 3900
E-mail: help@nhrc.or.th

5. Assoc. Prof. Dr. Kittichai Triratanasirichai
The Rector of Khon Kaen University
No.123 Moo 16
Mittraphap Road Nai Meaung sub district,
Meaug district,
Khon Kaen province 40000
THAILAND
Tel: +6643-009700
E-mail:president@kku.ac.th

6. Pol.Maj. Chirattikul Charatkamolpong
Inquiry officer of Khon Kaen Police Station
No. 324 Moo 16 Kanlapaphruek Road
Meaug district,
Khon Kaen province 40000
Tel: + 664 323 5095 8
THAILAND

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrc.asia)


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