“Down with feudalism” 112 charge/s

26 11 2021

Via Prachatai, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights has “reported that Supakorn Khunchit, a student from the Faculty of Economics, Prince of Songkla University, was arrested by a group of plainclothes police officers in the parking lot in front of the Songklanagarind Hospital’s sport complex after he went to receive his second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.”

The arrest was made by plainclothes police acting like thugs on 23 November 2021:

Supakorn said that, at first, a man called out to him in the parking lot. He thought the man wanted to ask for some information, so he walked over, but was then surrounded by 3 – 4 other men who said they were police officers and presented a warrant issued by the Phatthalung Provincial Court … under Section 112 of the Criminal Code, a sedition charge under Section 116 of the Criminal Code, and a charge of entering into a computer system data which is an offense relating to national security under Section 14 of the Computer Crimes Act.

It is claimed that another “7 – 8 more plainclothes officers then came out of a vehicle and surrounded him.”

He was permitted to contact a lawyer but the police thugs took him off to a police station and recorded the arrest before the lawyer had arrived.

Supakorn stated that “he had never received a summons…”.

He was held overnight at Muang Phatthalung Police Station, without access to visitors or a lawyer. A TLHR lawyer and “Suthichai Ngamchuensuwan, Dean of the Faculty of Law, Prince of Songkla University, went to meet him on Wednesday morning (24 November).”

Supakorn is charged for allegedly being part of a “group of people who took pictures of various locations in Phatthalung and posted them on the Facebook pages ‘Free Phatthalung’ and ‘Democracy of Southern Thailand’ along with messages which the police claimed were insulting towards the King and the Queen and aimed to incite unrest among the people.”

Among the messages were: “‘1 2 3 4 5 fuck you,’ ‘Down with feudalism. Long live the ducks,’ ‘The people own the country’,” which TLHR disputed as messages corresponding to the charges.

Supakorn was “granted bail using Suthichai’s academic position as security.”

Supakorn pointed out some of the absurdities of his arrest, observing that “he had just reported to the police on charges relating to another protest but did not receive an arrest warrant for this case.”

TLHR stated that “an arrest warrant has also been issued for 2 other student activists on charges relating to the same incident, and that they would be reporting to the police on Friday (26 November).”





Updated: The regime’s political prisoners

24 11 2021

Recently, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights listed those political prisoners currently held in the regime’s dungeons. There are at least 25.

These political detainees have repeatedly applied for but been denied bail. For example, lawyer and activist Arnon Nampa has had his bail applications denied eight times, Jatupat Boonpattararaksa has had bail denied seven times, and so on. The courts can detain them for as long as it takes for their cases to be concluded. In the past, for lese majeste detainees, this was a form of torture meant to force them to plead guilty.

Those held longest have been in the dungeons for almost 4 months.

We attach here a summary of the list of political detainees:

Update: Thai Enquirer has a story regarding some of those included in the list above. It emphasizes that the regime’s police have arrested more than 200 children and youths associated with the Din Daeng protests. Using data from TLHR, it states that “from August to October, police have arrested 176 young people, aged 15-18, and another 46 children under the age of 15 for a range of charges.” Arrests are made and homes searched without warrants, and some a held without access to guardians or lawyers. Just another day in authoritarian, autocratic Thailand.





Banner 112

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.”





A report on lese majeste

6 10 2021

The International Federation for Human Rights says that the recent “wave of arrests, detentions, and prosecutions for royal defamation could result in several pro-democracy activists receiving prison sentences ranging between 120 and 300 years…”.

It has released a new report with Thai Lawyer for Human Rights and Internet Law Reform Dialogue titled Second wave: The return of lèse-majesté in Thailand “documents how the Thai government has used and abused Article 112 of the Criminal Code (“lèse-majesté”) to target pro-democracy activists and protesters in relation to their online political expression and participation in peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations.”





Cracking down III

19 09 2021

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights has recently reported statistics on people arrested or detained, accused of involvement in protest activities during the first three weeks of August:

It is found that from 1 to 25 August 2021, at least 260 persons have been arrested. This number includes at least 13 children younger than 15 years old, 57 youths within the age range from 15 to 18 years old, and 190 adults. However, it excludes the key protest leaders and activists who reported to the authorities per their arrest warrants.

Arresting and detaining 57 kids under 18 may seem excessive, but the point of these operations is to frighten and repress.

So it is that the cops harass:

Clipped from The Nation

All the arrested persons had been detained and interrogated in different places, depending on the authorities’ order each day. The documented detention venues included the Region 1 Border Patrol Police Headquarters (BPP 1) in Pathum Thani Province, the Narcotics Suppression Bureau (NSB) inside the Royal Thai Police Club, and other police stations across Bangkok. The majority of detention was unlawful because the police officers often did not bring the arrested persons to a police station in the locality of where they were arrested or the station in charge of processing the arrested persons’ charges in line with the Criminal Procedure Code.

Unlawful arrest and other unlawful activity seems to define police operations.

Read more on these arrests here.

Meanwhile, the regime’s thuggish police are running dragnets across the protest movement. Prachatai reports that on 17 September, “police officers raided the house of members of the student activist group United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration (UFTD), confiscating mobile phones and computers and arresting one person.” According to TLHR, the arrest warrant did not say why it was issued.

That’s probably unlawful as well, but these thugs have become the law; whatever they do seems okay.

According to Thai PBS, Deputy Police Spokesman Pol Col Krisana Pattanacharoen stated that the cops “have 20 targets of investigation, including the UFTD leaders, who are suspected of committing illegal acts related to national security.” That’s usually code for lese majeste and/or sedition.

Pol Col Krisana claimed “[s]imilar raids and searches have been conducted outside Bangkok and at least five suspects have already been arrested…”.

Clipped from Prachatai

The person arrested was university student Niraphorn Onkhao, a third-year liberal arts student at Thammasat University, on charges of sedition and computer crimes. TLHR say the arrest warrant did not say why it was issued and contained the wrong citizen ID number. Niraphorn also protested during the arrest that she had never received a summons.

Niraphorn denied all charges and refused to sign the arrest record and was later released on bail of 25,000 baht.

TLHR reported that the complaint leading to Niraphorn’s arrest was filed “by Nopadol Prompasit, a member of the Thailand Help Center for Cyberbullying Victims, an online royalist group whose members have filed numerous lèse majesté charges against many netizens and activists…”. Ultra-royalist Nopadol claimed the student was “involved with running the UFTD’s Facebook page, which contain messages calling for people to join protests, which said were not peaceful protests and at risk of spreading Covid-19.”

Showing how close the links are between regime cops and ultra-royalists, police claimed they “found that the Facebook page contain[ed] what they consider to be seditious messages calling for people to rebel against the authorities, as well as accusations that officers used excessive force on protesters.”

Thailand’s political space narrows by the day.





Anti-monarchy graffiti and arson

18 09 2021

Readers who are following social media will be aware that anti-monarchism has been more prominent over the past couple of weeks. This has worried the regime and ultra-royalists have been further spooked. The police and military have been chasing down those considered anti-monarchists.

Prachatai recently reported that “a protester who allegedly painted graffiti about monarchy reform at Din Daeng Intersection on 13 September [was]… arrested by the police on Wednesday night (15 September).” Wiraphap Wongsaman was arrested and detained at Phaholyothin Police Station, accused “of painting graffiti reading ‘The monarchy should be reformed to be under the constitution’.”

Clipped from Prachatai

Wiraphap was said to have “been the target of Information Operations and a pro-monarchy group which tried to label him as a radical protester…”.

Meanwhile, responding to the the burning of King Vajiralongkorn’s portrait on 13 September 2021 at Srinagarind Hospital in Khon Kaen, two “Khon Kaen University students were separately arrested on Monday morning by provincial police this morning (Friday) for allegedly torching the portrait of His Majesty the King in front of the Srinagarind Hospital in the early morning of Monday (September 13th ).”

From Isaan Record

With search warrants issued by the Khon Kaen provincial court two large “police teams searched the two houses in Muang district where the students have been staying.” Police “said that both [those arrested] are third-year students at the Faculty of Liberal Arts at Khon Kaen University.”

Prachatai says that “Panupong (last name withheld) and Ruangsak (last name withheld) were … taken to Muang Khon Kaen Police Station. Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) said that the police took them into separate rooms for questioning and provided Ruangsak with a lawyer  who has a police rank and did not inform the suspect of his rights.”

They were charged with arson of public property. Both denied the charge and were “later granted bail without security, on the condition that they will receive a fine of 35,000 baht each if they violate their bail. The court also appointed the Deputy Dean of their faculty … as their guarantor.”

Such arson sometimes results in lese majeste charges.





Updated: Cracking down II

12 09 2021

As we have posted several times, the regime has adopted more aggressive repression, extending from protesters to the media. This is reflected in a Prachatai Facebook post on arrests and intimidation on Saturday, reproduced in full:

51 people have been arrested following a clash between protesters and crowd control police at Din Daeng.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) said that they have been notified at around 23.45 on Saturday night (11 September) that 51 people have been arrested, 6 of whom were minors and were taken to the Paholyothin Police Station. 23 of those arrested were adults and taken to the Narcotics Suppression Bureau, while the remaining 22 people were taken to the Don Mueang Police Station.

Volunteer medics in the area have also been detained. According to iLaw, 25 volunteer medics were taken to the Din Daeng Police Station. The police took record of their information, but did not charge them.

From Prachatai’s Facebook page

During the clash, which began in the evening, crowd control police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse protesters, who retaliated with firecrackers and other small explosives.

Crowd control police were also reported to fire tear gas and rubber bullets into nearby houses and apartment buildings. They also threatened to arrest residence who came to force the officers out of their community, claiming that they were out past curfew.

According to The Reporters’ live broadcast, crowd control police also ordered a group of journalists gathering near the Din Daeng District Office to sit down and end their live broadcasts while the officers check their IDs.

The Reporters posted on their Facebook page at around 22.40 that they have to end their live broadcast as the police ordered journalists to leave the area or they will be arrested for breaking curfew.

The Din Daeng Intersection and the surrounding area have been the site of daily clashes for the past month, as protesters gathered to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha. TLHR said that at least 225 people were arrested during the Din Daeng protests in August alone, at least 15 of whom were under 15 years old and at least 62 were between 15 – 18 years old.

Update: Also at its Facebook page, Prachatai provides more information:

To express objection toward the police brutal arrest and protest crackdown last night, people rallied at Din Daeng Intersection and Ratchaprasong Intersection to protest.

As of 19.30, no clash has been taken place in either locations. Explosive sounds were heard and some small fire were seen set on the road of Din Daeng. The organizer at Ratchaprasong were brought to Pathum Wan police station.

On 19.45, rubber bullets were shot at the protester at Din Daeng.

On Saturday night, (11 September) 78 people have been arrested, 6 of whom were minors. Some of the arrested reportedly stated that they were either passerby, vendors, motorcycle taxi or people who went to the protest to find food giveaway.





Royal portrait lese majeste

2 09 2021

In a Prachatai reports we posted about earlier, another lese majeste case is mentioned. Citing Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, it is reported that, on 30 August 2021, “Sirapat Deesawat, 35, from Nonthaburi province, was charged with royal defamation [Prachatai means lese majeste] by the police at Rattanathibet Police station.”

Sirapat was reportedly been “arrested without a warrant on 10 August after a complaint was filed that a King Vajiralongkorn portrait and a decorative golden frame were stolen from the entrance to a Prachachuen housing estate.  A CCTV camera recorded the theft.”

Police allege that “Sirapat removed the portrait and its frame, dragged both along the ground face down for about 190 metres. Reaching a nearby market, he gave the portrait to Kanokwan Chimnok and dumped the frame in a canal.” For this, the authorities “contend that Sirapat’s action amount to defamation of the monarch as [t]he King’s portrait is supposed to be respected by people and should be kept in a place befitting his … station.”

Sirapat has denied the charge and was released on bail. Meanwhile, “Kanokwan was charged with receiving stolen property. She surrendered on 24 August and was released after placing a 90,000 baht security.”

According to TLHR, by 31 August, 126 lese majeste charges had been laid against 124 person.





AI on shooting kids

23 08 2021

We reproduce in full a note by Amnesty International on the shooting of several children in recent rallies:

Thailand: Urgent investigation needed after live rounds fired at child protesters

The Thai authorities must urgently investigate the shooting of protesters in Bangkok that has left one child in a critical condition, Amnesty International said after confirming that three children were injured by live rounds of ammunition during a demonstration outside a police station on Monday.

The mother of a 15-year-old protester told Amnesty that her son is in a coma and that a bullet – believed to be live ammunition – remains lodged in his skull. The organization confirmed that another protester, aged 14, suffered a bullet wound in the shoulder from live ammunition while a third protester, aged 16, was shot in the foot.

The Thai police have denied using live ammunition and it is unconfirmed who fired the shots.

“The use of live ammunition against protesters is a deeply concerning development. The Thai authorities must urgently investigate the shootings of these child protesters, including any unlawful use of firearms,” said Emerlynne Gil, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Deputy Director.

“Thailand’s government must also investigate all reports of excessive and unnecessary force by police against protesters over the past year, and bring to justice anyone found responsible of causing physical harm to protesters.”

Over recent weeks, protesters have flocked to Bangkok’s streets and around Thailand to voice concerns over the official handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and other political grievances. The authorities have ramped up their use of rubber bullets, water cannon and tear gas to disperse protests – even when protests have been peaceful.

In its recent report, Amnesty International called on Thai authorities to prioritize non-violent means, such as negotiation, mediation and dialogue, to de-escalate situations that might lead to violence.

The organization has also called on authorities to ensure that devices such as tear gas or water cannon are used only in situations of more generalized violence for the purpose of dispersing a crowd, and only when all other means have failed to contain the violence.

“Recent policing of assemblies, coupled with Thailand’s history of impunity for excessive and sometimes even lethal force against protesters, highlights the need for Thai authorities to change their approach. If they genuinely want to prevent human rights violations, they must stop repressing peaceful protest and instead facilitate and protect it,” said Emerlynne Gil.

“The police’s handling of protests, including those which are not peaceful, must be necessary and proportionate. Security forces must refrain from using the type of excessive force that has been seen repeatedly during protests since 2020.

“Police authorities must protect the rights of all peaceful protesters from disruption or violence by third party actors.”

Background

On the night of 16 August 2021, live ammunition was fired at protesters near the Din Daeng police station in central Bangkok as police tried to disperse peaceful demonstrators. The police have denied using live ammunition.

Ratchavitee Hospital, which is treating the injured protesters, said on 17 August that a 15-year-old is in a coma after a bullet struck him in the head. The 14-year-old protester who was shot in the shoulder has now been released from hospital.

Tens of thousands of Thais took to the streets to demand democratic reforms in largely peaceful protests throughout 2020 and into 2021 in Bangkok, the capital, and in provinces across Thailand. Amnesty International has found that authorities responded to protests with escalating arbitrary use of tear gas, rubber bullets and other less-lethal weapons and have used unnecessary and excessive force, with an apparent lack of accountability. The Thai Civil court has called on police to exercise restraint in their policing of assemblies.

As protests have reignited in recent weeks, police have fired tear gas and water cannon at demonstrators and arrested and detained numerous peaceful protesters – including under emergency provisions ostensibly put in place? to tackle Covid-19 and despite the country’s prisons reporting thousands of infections in recent weeks.

According to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, from July 2020 to August 2021, at least 800 individuals have faced criminal charges – including sedition, royal defamation, computer-related crime, violation of the emergency provisions – in 374 lawsuits for joining peaceful protests, 69 of them children.





More on foodpanda 112 case

21 07 2021

Prachatai and Thai Lawyers for Human Rights report that Sitthichote Sethasavet, 25, stands “accused of burning a royal arch at Ratchadamnoen Nok Avenue during the 18 July protest. He is accused of royal defamation [they mean lese majeste] and arson…”.

He has denied all charges and was “released on bail with 100,000 baht as securities.”.

Sitthichok

Clipped from Prachatai

It is reported that Sitthichote “was arrested by plainclothes police at his house in Rangsit on Monday night.” Prachatai states:

Sitthichok’s arrest is related to the #banfoodpanda (#แบนfoodpanda) hashtag which trended on Sunday. A Twitter user mentioned the food delivery platform, saying its rider may have been involved in the arson attempt on a royal arch during the 18 July protest. Foodpanda responded by saying that it would look into the details and that the platform has a policy “against violence and all forms of terrorism.”

The comment angered many netizens for equating protestors with terrorists when the protesters faced violence from the police use of anti-protest measures. They criticized the platform’s stance which seemed to support authoritarianism and prejudice against its rider without any proper investigation. This led to users and restaurants themselves to call for a boycott of the Foodpanda service.

Foodpanda soon published “a letter apologizing for the disappointment that its message had caused among users and partners. The letter stated that the company is still carefully looking into the incident.”

Meanwhile, labor groups “published a statement condemning Foodpanda Thailand for violating their worker rights of political expression.”

The Nation reports that Sitthichoke has “denied charges of burning royal portrait during an anti-government protest on Sunday, claiming he was attempting to put out the flames.”

Police claim they “have evidence that proves the suspect burned a royal picture…”.

He also revealed that police officers were interrogating the 16 protesters arrested earlier for their role in Sunday’s rally.








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