Updated: Arrests mount, protests continue

4 09 2020

On Thursday, the Criminal Court heard and partially granted “a police request to revoke the bail of two top leaders of the burgeoning anti-government protest movement who refuse to stop their public political activities.” Human rights lawyer Arnon Nampa and Free People movement activist Panupong Jadnok had been “granted bail last month for charges including sedition arising from a protest rally in Bangkok in July.” The two have continued to be politically active and police say this is against their bail conditions and asked the “court to order them back into custody.”

Arnon said he hoped their “imprisonment could serve as an inspiration for those who will continue fighting.”

Clipped from The Nation

The court proceedings were somewhat complicated, with Arnon’s bail withdrawn but the court demanding that Panupong’s bail surety be doubled to 200,000 baht. Rayong Mike refused “and agreed to be held in detention with Anon.” The two were sent to the Bangkok Special Prison.

In addition, Arnon refused to exercise his right for another bail hearing and “released a note through his representatives which have been posted online.” In it, he stated:

“I am happy to have fought alongside everyone. We have come a long way so keep on moving forward with bravery,” the note said. “My duty outside the jail cell has ended and will now believe in the necessary changes.”

“Please come out on September 19 to confirm that we have come on the right path. I believe in everyone.”

Panupong posted a similar message:

“When everyone knows that society is ruled by the elite, our duty is to fight against the injustice and inequality undermining democracy. … Do not wait for others to stand up for you. Keep fighting to bring victory to our movement. Even though I am no longer free, others will stand up and find victory at last,” he said.

Khaosod states that “authorities have taken legal actions against more than 30 key figures in the movement in an apparent attempt to decapitate it and stall its momentum.”

This approach is in line with the forms of political repression used by the regime in the past, from the time the junta seized power in 2014. It seeks to take out those it identifies as “leaders” and to threaten their families (as they have recently done in targeting Arnon’s aged grandmother). Yet the regime seems not to have grasped the decentralized nature of the ongoing protests, its new methods and its radicalism.

Update: Amnesty International has established a campaign calling for the regime “to stop harassing protesters, and critics of the administration, and to repeal laws deemed to be suppressing free expression and peaceful public gatherings.” AI is “urging its 8 million members, supporters and pro-democracy activists around the world to write to Thailand’s Prime Minister [Gen] Prayut Chan-o-cha, asking him to drop the charges arising from their roles in the July 18th protest…”. The campaign runs until 21 October and includes a downloadable letter that can be a basis for writing to the general.

Meanwhile, Wasant Techawongtham, a former news editor at the Bangkok Post, has an op-ed that includes this observation:

Supporters of the dictatorship have fewer and fewer arguments for the status quo.

The regime is now engaging in a “legal war” against dissenters, trying to eliminate leading voices by slapping them with dubious charges.

This tactic may have caused some uncertainty among protesters in the beginning. But the unjust use of the law has now caused the opposition to be more determined.

And just like the military-inspired constitution that has created a political dead-end, this suppression campaign will also come to a dead end when no one is afraid anymore.


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