Further updated: Another 112 arrest

14 01 2021

Prachatai’s Facebook page has reported another arrest of a student, accused of lese majeste:

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) reported that Sirichai, a first year student at Thammasat University and a member of the student activist group United Front of the Thammasat and Demonstration, was arrested by officers from the Khlong Luang Police Station under a Section 112 charge, and was being taken to the Border Police [BPP] Region 1 headquarters.

When activists and friends arrived at the BPP headquarters they were told Sirichai was not there. He was located about an hour later “at his dormitory, and that a number of plainclothes officers have brought him there while they search his room.” Those who located him “demand[ed] that the officers wait for a lawyer to arrive at the dormitory before taking Sirichai elsewhere.” After a lawyer arrived, the “officers then presented a warrant from the Thanyaburi Provincial Court and said that they will be taking Sirichai back to the Khlong Luang Police Station.”

Later, his friends were told “that Sirichai is being held at the Khlong Luang Police Station. However, a TLHR lawyer asked officers at the police station, and was told that Sirichai is not there.”

The case is murky at this stage. If more information becomes available, PPT will update this post.

Update 1: Prachatai has an updated report on this case. It states that Sirichai is “a 1st year student at the Puey Ungphakorn School of Development Studies, Thammasat University, and a member of the student activist group United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration…”. He was arrested in the middle of the night by Khlong Luang police and taken to the Khlong Luang Police Station. Sirichai reportedly “faces charges under Section 112 for spraying paint on a portrait of the King.”

It is added that “Sirichai was taken to the Thanyaburi Provincial Court on Thursday morning (14 January) for a temporary detention request. The court then ruled to allow him to be temporarily detained for 12 days. His lawyer is now requesting bail using a Thammasat University lecturer’s position as security.”

TLHR says that “Sirichai’s case is the first time since Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha’s announcement on 19 November 2020 that every law will be used against the pro-democracy protesters that a court issue[d] an arrest warrant for a Section 112 charge.”

Thai Enquirer has a powerful op-ed:

On Wednesday night, state security officials abducted New Sirichai from his dormitory. The officials were not in uniform, did not declare an arrest warrant, and took him to an undisclosed location.

Rights groups and politicians said that the arrest amounted to kidnapping because of the nature and timing of the abduction….

What made the situation worse was that police lied to lawyers and pro-democracy protesters about New’s whereabouts throughout the night….

[T]he arrest last night goes to show that we have become a nation where laws and the rights of the accused do not really matter.

No matter your position on the Lese Majeste law, the actions of the Thai police last night went beyond carrying out the enforcement of the law and was an act of intimidation and harassment by the state.

The ‘arrest,’ if you could call it that, was more reminiscent of a scene from the Sopranos than protocol accepted by the United Nations.

This government has shown time and time again that it is not above using the same tactics employed by dictators and despots. But this is hardly surprising given that this government was put in place by a military coup and has allied itself with international drug dealers and local mafiosos.

It concludes: “we are a nation of thugs being ruled by a government full of thugs.”

Update 2: Commentator Thitinan Pongsudhirak isn’t writing about lese majeste, but his assessment of Thailand under the current regime fits with the assessment above:

… moral turpitude has set in while the sense of moral backstop has faded. As this trend intensifies, Thailand risks suffering political decay, social decadence and economic stagnation, while impunity and immorality reign without boundaries….

The corruption and graft among government officials and military and police officers are likely to add fuel to the fire of social discontent among youth-led anti-establishment protesters and activists. When Covid restrictions are loosened, they probably will return to campuses and the streets to demand more competent and accountable rulers. When this happens, those who will ask again and again about who is backing such protests need to look at Thailand’s decadence, decay, and stagnation as the real backers. This is why the student-led protesters will keep going for their country’s better future and for themselves.



One response

15 01 2021
Sirichai’s two lese majeste charges | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] PPT posted yesterday on the then breaking news and the first case against him. In that case, he faces both a lese majeste charge and another of vandalizing property under Article 358 of the Criminal Code. In this case he “allegedly spray-painted text about taxes and the abolition of Section 112, ironically one of the offences he was accused of committing, over an image of royals and the nameplate of the university’s Rangsit campus in six spots in the area in total. The incident took place on Jan 10.” […]

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