Another 112 political prisoner

29 04 2021

Yet another activist has been “detained pending trial” on a lese majeste charge.

Wanwalee Thammasattaya has been detained on an Article 112 charge stemming from a protest on 6 December 2020.

On 27 April 2021, the “public prosecutor filed a case against Wanwalee and activist Chukiat ‘Justin’ Saengwong in a royal defamation charge relating to speeches given during a protest at Wongwian Yai” on that day. Chukiat is already “detained pending trial on another Section 112 charge. He has been in prison since 23 March.”

In addition, a minor, “Thanakorn (last name withheld), 17, is also facing charges in the same case, but as he is a minor, his case is being processed by the Central Juvenile and Family Court.” He is due “to report to the prosecutor on 24 May 2021 to hear whether the prosecutor will file a case against him.”

The complaints against them that have led to charges were “filed by Chakrapong Klinkaew, leader of the royalist group People Protecting the Institution.”

It was the Thonburi Criminal Court that “ordered Wanwalee to be detained pending trial, and denied her request for bail with a security of 200,000 baht on the ground that the plaintiff objected to granting her bail and that she is likely to flee, since she is facing several counts on the same charge.”

Wanwalee has two other 112 charges “for a speech given at a protest in front of the Siam Commercial Bank headquarters on 25 November 2020 and [another] for posting a picture of a protest banner containing a message about the monarchy on her Facebook page on 21 November 2020.”

She is “detained at the Thonburi Women Correctional Institution, making her the 17th person to be detained pending trial in cases relating to political expression.” Ten of those face lese majeste charges.





Two charged

24 04 2021

112Two are bailed, two are charged.

Two further lese majeste cases have been sent to investigation. Both seem part of an official and vigilante effort to drive people away from Pavin Chachavalpongpun’s commentaries that criticize and poke fun at the monarchy.

In the first case, the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society has filed a complaint against a transgender woman for sharing a Facebook post by Pavin.

On 19 April 2021, Patchara, a pseudonym for a 22 year-old woman, attended the Technology Crime Suppression Division to hear the charges over her sharing of a Pavin post “that criticized the work of King Rama X…”. Her re-posting was on19 November 2020.

The police allege the re-posting constitutes an offense under Article 112 and was a breach of the Computer Crime Act. It was claimed that uploading information by Pavin criticizing the king was a threat to the kingdom’s security.

Patchara reportedly “denied the charge and will give further documentary testimony on 19 May. She also refused to sign the register for hearing the charge.”

According to Prachatai, “Patchara’s case is the 8th case of royal defamation filed by the MDES since the moratorium on using Section 112 ended in November 2020.”

The second case involves Pipat (surname withheld by request), a 20 year-old man who had to travel from his home in Lopburi to hear charges at the Bangkaew Provincial Police Station in Samut Prakan on 20 April 2021.

According to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, Pipat was charged for a post in Pavin’s Royalist Marketplace Facebook group. That group has over two million followers, almost all of them in Thailand.

The charge dates back to 28 May 2020, when someone named Umaphon Sunthonphot:

saw Pipat’s post on the Royalist Marketplace, a satirical Facebook group established by Pavin Chachavalpongpun. The post consists of a photograph of King Rama X and Prince Dipangkorn Rasmijoti with a 2-sentence caption to the Prince’s photo, which Umaphon views as defamation, infringement or an expression of hostility against the King and the Crown Prince.

The police charged Pipat under the lese majeste law and the Computer Crimes Act.

Pipat has also denied the charges and “will submit documentary testimony within 30 days.” In addition, he asked:

…police to summon the plaintiff to give further details about how his post damaged her and how it was deemed wrongful according to the Section 112 of the Criminal Code. The police said that they would do so.

Police took Pipat to Samut Prakan Provincial Court for a temporary detention order. Pipat’s lawyer asked for bail “with 150,000 baht as security, citing the principle of presumption of innocence, the accused’s good cooperation with the police, and the effect that detention would have on his career and family’s wellbeing.”

The court granted bail, which was posted by “Ratsadorn Prasong, a donation fund used for bailing out pro-democracy protesters or sympathizers.”

Prachatai adds that “at least 87 people have been charged” with lese majeste since last November. We at PPT think it is more than this, but accurate information is difficult to come by.





Updated: Two bailed

23 04 2021

Two political prisoners charged with lese majeste and other offenses have been granted bail.

Thai PBS reports the good news that Somyos Prueksakasemsuk and Jatuphat Boonpattaraksa have finally been bailed. The softening of the regime and the regime’s courts on these two may reflect a regime belief that it can further split the leadership of the recent protests. In any case, these two, both previously convicted and jailed on 112 charges, have agreed that they will not challenge the monarchy:

Pai and Somyos

Pai and Somyos Clipped from Thai PBS

The defendants told the court that, if they were to be granted bail, they would refrain from any activities which may damage the reputation of the Thai monarchy.

Having heard the testimony of prison officials and the pledge by the defendants, the court ruled that there was no reason not to grant them bail, at 200,000 baht each, and set the conditions that they must not get involved in activities which may tarnish the monarchy or leave Thailand.

Their supporters, who had been staging 112-minute protests against Article 112 “called off the protest and travelled to Bangkok Remand Prison to welcome the Ratsadon leaders upon their release.”

Update: Prachatai reports that two others on 112 charges – named as Phonphimon (Pholpimol) and Phonchai (Pornchai Wimolsupawong) were bailed in Chiang Mai.





HRW on continuing detentions

21 04 2021

Human Rights WatchHuman Rights Watch has released a statement on the continuing detention of political activists. We reproduce it in full, including with links HRW had embedded:

(New York) – Thai authorities should immediately release pro-democracy activists detained on charges of insulting the monarchy, Human Rights Watch said today. Prominent Thammasat University students Parit Chiwarak and Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul have been on hunger strike to protest their pre-trial detention, for 35 days and 21 days respectively.

The charges against Parit, Panusaya, and others should be dropped for violating their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. Until then, bail should be provided for all those detained under the lese majeste (insulting the monarchy) law. Hunger strikers should be transferred to a hospital for medical supervision.

“Thai authorities should immediately drop the cases against Parit, Panusaya, and others unjustly charged for their peaceful pro-democracy protests, but at a minimum they should be released on bail,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Holding activists in detention prior to trial and conviction, which could be years away, seems aimed to unfairly punish them rather than fulfill a legitimate state interest.”

On March 8, 2021, the Bangkok Criminal Court ordered Panusaya, Jatupat Boonpattararaksa, and Panupong Jadnok into pre-trial detention on lese majeste charges connected to the speeches they made demanding reforms of the monarchy during a rally on September 19, 2020. The cases follow the court’s February 9 decision to order four other prominent democracy activists – Parit, Arnon Nampha, Somyot Pruksakasemsuk, and Patiwat Saraiyaem – into pre-trial detention on similar charges.

Article 112 of Thailand’s Criminal Code makes lese majeste punishable by up to 15 years in prison. The activists were also charged with sedition under Criminal Code article 116, which carries a maximum 7-year sentence. These cases are just the latest in which Thai activists charged with lese majeste have been detained for lengthy periods that could go on for years until their trial is concluded, Human Rights Watch said.

Except for Patiwat, who gave a statement in court on March 29 that he would no longer participate in rallies and other political activities or make public comments about the monarchy, the court has repeatedly denied the activists’ bail requests, saying they are likely to commit the alleged offenses again if released.

Holding those charged with lese majeste in pretrial detention violates their rights under international human rights law. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Thailand has ratified, encourages bail for criminal suspects. Article 9 states that, “It shall not be the general rule that persons awaiting trial shall be detained in custody, but release may be subject to guarantees to appear for trial.” Those whose charges have not been dropped should be tried without undue delay, Human Rights Watch said.

The number of lese majeste cases in Thailand has significantly increased in the past year, Human Rights Watch said. After almost a three-year hiatus in which lese majeste prosecutions were not brought before the courts, Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-ocha, in November, ordered the authorities to restore lese majeste prosecutions, ostensibly because of growing criticisms of the monarchy. Since then, officials have charged at least 82 people with lese majeste crimes in relation to various activities at pro-democracy rallies or comments on social media.

In a February 8 statement on the situation in Thailand, United Nations human rights experts said that lese majeste laws have “no place in a democratic country.” They also expressed serious concerns about the growing number of lese majeste prosecutions and harsh prison sentences the courts have meted out to some defendants. On January 19, a retired civil servant, Anchan Preelert, received an 87-year prison sentence, later halved after she pleaded guilty.

The ICCPR protects the right to freedom of expression. General Comment 34 of the Human Rights Committee, the international expert body that monitors compliance with the covenant, states that laws such as those for lese majeste “should not provide for more severe penalties solely on the basis of the identity of the person that may have been impugned” and that governments “should not prohibit criticism of institutions.”

“The Thai government should stop this witch hunt against peaceful dissenters and demonstrate respect for human rights by permitting all viewpoints,” Adams said. “The government should engage with United Nations experts and others about amending the lese majeste law to bring it into compliance with Thailand’s international human rights law obligations.”





On Port Faiyen’s 112 case

19 04 2021

Readers may recall the #SaveFaiyen campaign. Faiyen was a band that fled to Laos and eventually received asylum in France.

One member was ill and decided not to travel to France and returned to Thailand. Port Faiyen (Parinya Cheewinpatomkul) is now among those arrested, charged with lese majeste, and refused bail. His case has received too little attention.

For his time in Laos, see this Facebook post.Port Faiyen

On 5 March 2021, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights reported that Port was arrested at his house and charged with lese majeste and under the Computer Crimes Act. The police had a warrant and seized mobile phones and notebooks.

Port stated that he is still ill but was refused bail and has been jailed since then. There is concern that his illnesses – including nerve inflammation, pancreatitis, diabetes – will worsen in jail.

More details are from this Facebook page. It says Port was arrested on 3 March for three Facebook posts from 2016.

His most famous song is “พ่อ” (Father) where he rejects the ideology that people should see the king as their father.

When he returned to Bangkok he deactivated his Facebook account, and underwent medical treatment. It took the authorities some time to track him down.





Protest=arrest

18 04 2021

There’s been considerable sympathy for the political activists detained without bail on lese majeste charges, some of them refusing solid food. In a situation where the virus is spreading rapidly, a lot of this has been seen on social media.

Yet, as Prachatai recently reported, for some time, the Resistant Citizen group has been arranging 112 minute daily “Just Standing” protests, targeting court buildings across the country, and attracting dozens to several hundred people.

Among those joining have been academics, lawyers and the mothers of some of the detainees, all holding banners. Some of the mothers are quoted:

The mother of Panupong Jadnok, one of the leading protest figures, told Matichon that the prolonged and strict judicial process and the rejection of bail have made her son guilty without a court ruling. The repeated travel to numerous proceedings have exhausted her.

Malai Nampa, mother of Anon Nampa, another leading figure, said the last time she met Anon was on 9 April when he walked past her but was not allowed to speak.

We know that Mongkol Thrakhote was arrested on Wednesday during a protest in front of the Ratchadapisek Criminal Court and that he has since been charged with lese majeste.

Protesters are now being harassed, with “leaders” being targeted by police. The Bangkok Post reports that police “are preparing to charge four key figures behind the political rally outside Government House on Thursday for organising a public gathering in violation of the Disease Control Act and the emergency decree…”.

The regime is seeking to harass all political opposition figures it identifies as likely to “lead” others.





Further updated: 112 in Chiang Rai

15 04 2021

Mongkol Thrakhote was arrested on Wednesday during a “solo protest in front of the Ratchadapisek Criminal Court to demand the release of Ratsadon leaders…”.

A resident of Chiang Rai province and aged 27, he was arrested while “facing a lèse majesté charge in his home province…”.

He was taken to “Pahonyothin police station for questioning, before he is to be sent back to police in Chiang Rai province.” Thai Lawyers for Human Rights said “Mongkol had insisted on giving his statement to police in Pan district of Chiang Rai … adding that a lawyer from the centre there will provide the suspect with legal counsel.”

Update 1: The arrest of Mongkol is looking suspiciously like a fit-up by the police and their masters. Prachatai reports that Mongkol arrived from “Chiang Rai on 12 April to join the hunger strike while sitting in front of the Criminal Court on Ratchadaphisek Road, Bangkok, to demand the release of activists currently detained pending trial and denied bail.”

Court officials immediately placed “metal barriers in front of the Criminal Court sign and told him that his action might be considered contempt of court, so he went to sit just next to the sign.” Other officers demanded his personal information and questioned and asked to search him. He was “told him that a ‘higher-up’ in the Court is unhappy and would like him to go away…”.

Soon, “uniformed and plainclothes police officers from Phaholyothin Police Station, along with some officers dressed like a commando unit, arrived to question him for another hour.” This questioning continued over several hours, on-and-off, and they pressured him to leave the area.

The next day, “a large number of officers” arrived as other protesters joined Mongkol. The, at “13.20 on 14 April, Mongkhon was arrested by police officers from Phaholyothin Police Station. The officers presented an arrest warrant from Phan Police Station in Chiang Rai, which stated that he was being charged under Section 112, or the lèse majesté law, and the Computer Crimes Act.”

It seems that “that police officers from the Muang Chiang Rai Police Station went to search Mongkhon’s house” on the morning of 14 April, with a search warrant.

This sounds suspicious to us. It gives the impression that the police were in search of a charge as a way to remove Mongkol.

Update 2: Prachatai reports that Mongkol “has been granted bail after two days in detention.” A surety of 150,000 baht was required. The report adds further information on the case. Officers searched his house and confiscated several items:

pieces of paper with messages written on them, a declaration by the activist group Ratsadorn, an armband with the three-finger salute symbol, and a red ribbon, and had his mother sign documents to acknowledge the search and confiscation. It is not clear how the objects confiscated by the officers are related to the case. Mongkhon’s mobile phone was also confiscated when he was arrested in Bangkok.

According to the police, the charges “to 25 Facebook posts he made between 2 – 11 March 2021, including messages referring to the King’s images, sharing video clips and foreign news reports about the Thai monarchy, and sharing posts from Somsak Jeamteerasakul’s Facebook page while adding captions.”





Vendor held on 112 charge

9 04 2021

Prachatai reports data from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights who say that “at least 82 people are facing charges under Section 112 since November 2020.” Several face multiple lese majeste charges and a slew of other charges.

One of the most recent cases to become known involves a 22 year-old online vendor from Chiang Mai, identified only as Phonphimon or Pholpimol.  She faces both a 112 charge and a charge made under the Computer Crimes Act. The charges are reportedly related to a Facebook post from October 2020.112

Phonphimon was arrested on 31 March 2021 “by a team of 5 – 6 uniformed and plainclothes police officers who presented an arrest warrant issued by the Chiang Mai Provincial Court…”.

She was taken to Chang Puak Police Station and “held overnight before being taken to court for a temporary detention request.”

On 1 April, she was told that “the charges were filed by Thikhathat Phrommani, who claimed he saw a Facebook post which was an insult to the King.”

The same day, the “Chiang Mai Provincial Court ruled to detain Phonphimon for 12 days, on the grounds that the penalty for the charges is high and that the accused is likely to flee or tamper with evidence.” As the police already had here electronic devices and she had given them access, this is ridiculous claim by the court.

Phonphimon has denied all charges and denies the Facebook profile is hers.

The Court denied bail and she was taken to the Chiang Mai Woman Correctional Institution. She remains in detention.

She is “being held alone with a prison guard in a cell with no window, and that there was no light other than in front of the cell.”





All about repression

8 04 2021

Yesterday, it was reported by the Bangkok Post that “[a]n adviser to the House Committee on Law …[had] filed a complaint with police against protest leader Jatuporn Prompan for allegedly violating the lese majeste law.”

The culprit is Sonthiya Sawasdee, who “asked police at Chana Songkhram station to look into Mr Jatuporn’s speech that he delivered on Sunday at the Santiporn Park … — where he held a mass protest for the Sammakhi Prachachon Pheu Prathet Thai (People’s Unity for Thailand) — to see if it violated the lese majeste law.”

The protest was in fact held to demand the resignation of coup leader and Prime Minister Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, and as far as we could tell, tried to avoid commentary on the monarchy.

Still, royalist “protector” and regime lackey Sonthiya said “he believed Mr Jatuporn’s speech violated the lese majeste law but added that it was up to the police to decide whether or not to press charges against him.” Quite oddly and in the face of all evidence, Sonthiya claimed “[t]he authorities enforced the lese majeste law out of good intentions to create peace in the country…”.

In fact, we all know that the use of 112 is as a tool of political repression.

That repression is the regime’s main task is is illustrated by another Bangkok Post today which has police summoning 36 people “involved in Sunday’s protest … to answer a slew of charges that could also include lese majeste.” The report states that:112

Red-shirt leader Jatuporn Prompan, who organised the mass gathering on behalf of the “Thai Mai Thon (Impatient Thais)” group and Adul Khiewboriboon, leader of the Samakkhi Prachachon group, will be among 14 people summoned to meet investigators and answer charges next Thursday, Pol Maj Gen Piya Tawichai, deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Bureau said on Wednesday.

The other 14 people will be summoned to answer charges the following day, he said.

Twelve other people who had a role in the rally at Santiporn Park that spilled over into Monday were also found to have violated several laws and will soon be summoned to face charges as well, he said.

Pol Maj Gen Piya “reiterated that all public gatherings are now considered unlawful under the emergency decree and the disease control law, being implemented to contain the spread of Covid-19.”

This is an increasingly bizarre claim, but one that’s been made several times. In fact, it is ministers slipping off to bars for a bit of sexual stimulation and gratification is demonstrably a more serious virus threat, as is poor policy. and bizarre behavior.

In any case this emergency decree has mainly been used as another tool for political repression.

Police confirmed that they are “examining a recording of a speech Mr Jatuporn delivered at Sunday’s gathering to determine whether comments made violated Section 112 of the Criminal Code…”.

By our rough calculations, there are currently about 80 active lese majeste cases and another 30-40 “under investigation.”





MP wants 112 suspects locked up

2 04 2021

Palang Pracharath Party MP Sira Jenjaka has decided that prison is the best place for those charged with violating Article 112.

Earlier in the week, as chairman of the House committee on law, justice process and human rights, Sira “visited the Bangkok Remand Prison … where three of the leaders — Arnon Nampa, Jatupat “Pai” Boonpattaraksa and Panupong “Mike” Jadnok — are being detained on charges including lese majeste.

Sira made the outrageous claim that these detainees are living the high life and their rights are not infringed: “It’s like living in a five-star hotel,” he said. Such a claim is quite deranged. Bangkok’s prisons are overcrowded, unpredictable, dank and dangerous.

And, only recently, in an unusual decision, acting on a complaint made by Arnon, that fellow political prisoners Jatuphat and  Panupong were mistreated, the Criminal Court “found the wardens failed to fully protect the rights of the detained protest figures.”

It seems Sira’s self-appointed task was to lie. No human rights abuses in prison and life was good. What a clown! His performance continued as he went from MP to medical practitioner. Untrained in medicine, Sira determined that Jatuphat, seen in a videolink, was “in good health…”.

Sira claimed the detainees’ supporters “who are worried shouldn’t be…”. He then got to his main point: “Let them [the protest leaders] be and don’t try to get them out. They are fine where they are.”

Presumably the odious Sira wants even more political prisoners.

Of course, Sira may lose his own position as an MP for a previous fraud conviction, which legally means he should not have been a candidate in the rigged election. But given that a deputy minister has a heroin conviction, we wonder if Sira doesn’t feel safe so long as he leeches around the regime bosses.

Meanwhile, a few days ago, Secretary to the Minister of Justice, Thanakrit Jitareerat, stated that:

the ministry would support any request by Mr Parit’s mother Ms Sureerat Chiwarak, to have her son moved to a Corrections Department hospital where his care could be monitored more effectively and which would have more medical resources than doctors at the Pathum Thani Detention Centre where he is currently incarcerated.

Not on your life. A couple of days later, Thawatchai Chaiwat, deputy director-general of the Department of Corrections and also its spokesman, “rejected a request by Mr Parit’s mother to refer him to a private hospital, saying if hospitalisation was required, detainees would be transferred to well-equipped prison medical facilities.denied Mr Parit was suffering serious health issues from going on a hunger strike in protest at the justice system.”

The whole regime appears full of liars, leeches, and charlatans.