Jatuphat Boonpattaraksa

paiJatuphat Boonpattaraksa, also known as Pai, was arrested by plainclothes police from the Khon Kaen Provincial Police Station on the morning of 3 December 2016, and accused of lese majeste. He was sentenced to 5 years jail on 15 August 2017.

The 25 year-old student was arrested in Chaiyaphum province. The warrant the police had was issued on 2 December 2016, and stated that Jatuphat was to be charged with lese majeste offense, following a complaint by Lt Gen Phitakphon Chusri, Deputy Chief of the Operations Directorate at the 33rd Military Circle in Khon Kaen.

The complaint was that, like more than 2,000 others, Pai had shared a BBC Thai news article, “Profile: Thailand’s new King Vajiralongkorn,” and had quoted some of that report on Facebook. He did not add any commentary with the quoted text. By April 2017, the BBC reported that more than 3 million had viewed its story on the king.

At the time of his arrest, Jatuphat was facing four other lawsuits, all for opposing the military junta. He is a member of the activist Dao Din Group based in the northeast and member of the Neo-Democracy Movement.

Jatuphat is clearly being singled out and framed by the junta and palace because he is a political activist and to send a powerful message that King Vajiralongkorn’s seedy personal life has to be sanitized for Thais.

Initially, a lawyer provided by Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) was prevented from seeing Jatuphat and the lawyer’s phone was confiscated and he was driven around Khon Kaen to delay his meeting with his client.

Jatuphat denied all charges. He was then moved north, to Nam Phong district police station, which prevented his lawyer seeking bail.

The following morning, police and prosecutors requested a pre-trial detention at the Khon Kaen Court and the court granted bail on a 400,000 baht surety. On 6 December 2016, Jatuphat returned to the Khon Kaen Police Station and filed a complaint letter about police errors and illegal actions in the initial investigation.

On 22 December, the Khon Kaen provincial court revoked Pai’s bail, ruling that he had made other Facebook comments that satirized the authorities and that he has failed to delete his original post of the king’s profile (surely a case of tampering with evidence would have been laid if he had done this).

Following that, the court has repeatedly denied Jatuphat’s bail requests. It also held its hearings in-camera.

On 20 January 2017, the secretive court held a hearing without Jatuphat’s lawyer’s participation and extended his pre-trial detention 12 days, the fifth such extension. He remains detained at the Khon Kaen provincial prison and has been subjected to abusive and intrusive cavity searches every time he returns from a court hearing.

Jatuphat’s support base grew, with more than 350 academics and intellectuals signing a letter protesting his treatment.

On 10 February 2017, in another in-camera hearing, Jatuphat was formally indicted. Pai was yet again refused bail. Supporters, denied access to the trial stated stood in front of the court and declared: “The judicial system behind us is not independent and just.”

On 1 March 2017, the Appeals Court refused a further bail request. As usual, they provided no logical or lawful reason for the denial of bail.

On 13 March 2017, for a seventh time, Khon Kaen’s Provincial Court rejected a 700,000 baht bail bid.

On 20 March 2017, and eighth bail application was refused.

On 5 April 2017, the Region 4 Appeal Court confirmed the ruling of the Court of First Instance not to release Jatuphat. The court agreed with the other court that releasing Jatuphat was impossible. They agreed that the activist mocked the authority of the state without fearing the law and is facing other charges for violating the Public Referendum Act and the junta’s political gathering ban in his previous political activities. We can be sure that this is the junta’s decision and may well reflect the position of the palace.

In mid-April 2017, Pai was awarded the prestigious 2017 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights, selected by the May 18 Memorial Foundation of South Korea. He was nominated by Mahidol University’s Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies. The prize is awarded to an organization or individual in Asia for their fight for human rights and democracy. The award also offers $50,000 for the winner.

On 30 June 2017, his 10th bail request was rejected by the vindictive and royalist court working for the junta.

His trial began on 3 August 2017, with no one from the public permitted in the court room. The court heard the first plaintiff witness, the thug military officer Lt Col Pitakpol Chusri, who filed the lese majeste complaint against Jatuphat.

When he appeared before another secret/in-camera court hearing on 15 August 2017, he suddenly changed his plea to guilty and was almost immediately sentenced to 5 years, halved for the guilty plea.

A lawyer claimed Pai changed his plea after he knew his trial would continue in secret, limiting the political impact of his case, and after he and his parents were told he had almost no chance of winning his case.

Media accounts of Jatuphat’s case:

Prachatai, 16 August 2017: “Secret trial: the reason why Pai Dao Din pleaded guilty

Prachatai, 16 August 2017: “Pai Dao Din pleads guilty, gets 2 years, 6 months for royal defamation

Bangkok Post, 15 August 2017: “‘Pai Dao Din’ to serve 2½ years

Prachatai, 4 August 2017: “First trial of ‘Pai Dao Din’ held in camera

Prachatai, 1 July 2017: “Pai Dao Din detained further after court denies 10th bail request

Prachatai, 15 April 2017: “Pai Dao Din wins prestigious Gwangju Human Rights award

Prachatai, 6 April 2017: “Pai Dao Din detained further as court consistently denies bail

The Nation, 21 March 2017: “Cases against ‘Pai Dao Din’ could be concluded by November

Prachatai, 21 March 2017: “3 more activists accused of contempt of court for demanding Pai’s release

Prachatai, 17 March 2017: “Activists demanding Pai Dao Din’s release accused of contempt of court

Prachatai, 14 March 2017: “Pai Dao Din denied bail again

Prachatai, 1 March 2017: “Court denies appeal to release Pai Dao Din

Bangkok Post, 1 March 2017: “Appeals court denies bail for Pai Dao Din

Bangkok Post, 10 February 2017: “Pai’s detention is threatening to backfire

Prachatai, 10 February 2017: “Pai Dao Din formally indicted for lèse majesté

Bangkok Post, 10 February 2017: “‘Pai Dao Din’ indicted in court, denies charges

Prachatai, 1 February 2017 : “Khon Kaen court refuses to release Pai Dao Din

Scholars at Risk, 1 February 2017: “Release peaceful student-activist Pai Boonpattararaksa

Bangkok Post, 24 January 2017: “Silence on Pai bodes ill for rule of law

Khaosod, 23 January 2017: “Jatupat Singled Out to Scare Others, Supporters Say

Human Rights Watch, 22 January 2017: “Thailand: Activist Unjustly Jailed for ‘Insulting Monarchy’

Khaosod, 20 January 2017: “Denied Bail for 5th Time, Activist ‘Pai Dao Din’ Gives Up

Bangkok Post, 19 January 2017: “UN urges review of LM cases

Prachatai, 19 January 2017: “Protest for detained student activist Pai Dao Din

Prachatai, 18 January 2017: “Detained student activist misses examination, jeopardising his graduation

Bangkok Post, 16 January 2017: “Student activist to sit exams in jail

Prachatai, 14 January 2017: “Pai Daodin is Thailand’s Rosa Parks

Prachatai, 13 January 2017: “Activists head northeast to demand release of Pai Daodin

Prachatai, 13 January 2017: “Detention puts lèse majesté suspect’s education at risk

Prachatai, 12 January 2017: “Military forbids activities for detained anti-junta activist

Bangkok Post, 6 January 2017: “Pai Daodin loses bail appeal

Prachatai, 6 January 2017: “Lèse majesté suspect’s rectum searched for drugs

Prachatai, 29 December 2016: “Jatuphat detention violates due process, says lawyer

Bangkok Post, 27 December 2016: “Court rejects Pai Dao Din’s release plea

Prachatai, 27 December 2016: “Court denies bail for activist accused of defaming King Rama X

Prachatai, 22 December 2017: “Court revokes bail of first lèse majesté suspect under King Rama X

AHRC, 21 December 2016: “Court to hear request of revoking activist’s bail in lese majeste case

Prachatai, 8 December 2016: “Another democracy activist threatened with lèse majesté law

Bangkok Post, 6 December 2016: “Government targets BBC Thai

Prachatai, 4 December 2016: “Anti-junta activist accused of defaming King Rama X freed

Khaosod, 4 December 2016: “Activist ‘Pai Dao Din’ Freed on Bail After 112 Arrest

Prachatai, 3 December 2016: “Dao Din declaration on the arrest of Jatupat Boonpattararaksa