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27 10 2021

Prachatai and Thai Lawyers for Human Rights report that two Burapha University students – Watchara (last name withheld) and his roommate Wirachat (last name withheld) – have been arrested and charged with lese majeste for hanging a banner from their dormitory balcony that was considered to attack the monarchy.

Watchara was arrested on 23 October 2021 outside his dorm “on an arrest warrant issued by the Chonburi Provincial Court. According to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), he never received a summons before being arrested…. He was taken to Saensuk Police Station and held there overnight.”

On 24 October 2021, Wirachat “who was informed that an arrest warrant had also been issued for him, reported to the police.” He was also held overnight.

Earlier, on 13 October 2021, the two, with another student,” were taken to Saensuk Police Station after they hung the banner from their balcony on the evening of 12 October 2021. They were questioned without a lawyer present before being released without being charged.”

That release lasted about 10 days before they were again taken in.

TLHR reported that a police report stated that an informant told them where Watchara lived, wanting “a reward for assisting in his arrest.” At the police station, efforts were made to “take DNA samples from both students, but their lawyer declined the request as there is no reason to do so in this case.”

Wirachat’s supporters showed their support, “holding banners saying ‘Feudalism shall fall; the people shall prosper’ and other messages demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha’s government, access to Covid-19 vaccines, repeal of Section 112, and monarchy reform.” Another group “poured dog food in front of a group of police officers.”

Police “opposed to bail on the grounds that the charge has a severe penalty and is related to national security.” However, the two were “later granted bail using a security of 150,000 baht each, which was covered by the Will of the People Fund, a bail fund for those facing charges for political expression. The court also set them the condition that they do not repeat their offense.”



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