Thailand: Arbitrary arrest, subsequent release and judicial harassment of 15 pro-democracy activists

24/05/2018
Urgent Appeal

THA 003 / 0518 / OBS 072
Arbitrary arrest /
Release /
Judicial harassment /
Restrictions on freedom
of peaceful assembly
Thailand
May 24, 2018

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Thailand.

Brief description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the arbitrary arrest, detention, subsequent release and judicial harassment of 15 pro-democracy activists, including Democracy Restoration Group (DRG) leader Mr. Rangsiman Rome, Mr. Sirawit Seritiwat, Mr. Piyarat Chongthep, Ms. Chonthicha Jangrew, human rights lawyer Mr. Anon Nampa, Ms. Nuttaa Mahattana, human rights activist and former lèse-majesté detainee Mr. Ekachai Hongkangwan, Mr. Chokchai Pairatchata, Mr. Nikorn Wittayaphan, Mr. Wiset Sangkhawisit, Mr. Putthaising Pimchan, Mr. Khiri Khanthong, Mr. Wirote Trongngamrak, and two other male activists who wish to remain anonymous.

According to the information received, at approximately 3:30 pm on May 22, 2018, Mr. Anon Nampa, Ms. Chonthicha Jangrew, Ms. Nuttaa Mahattana, Mr. Ekachai Hongkangwan, Mr. Chokchai Pairatchata, Mr. Khiri Khanthong, Mr. Putthaising Pimchan, Mr. Wirote Trongngamrak, and two men were arrested near the United Nations (UN) building complex in Bangkok, during a pro-democracy demonstration to mark the fourth anniversary of the latest military coup in Thailand. The ten were taken into custody at the Phaya Thai police station.

Shortly afterwards during the same protest, Messrs. Rangsiman Rome, Sirawit Seritiwat, Piyarat Chongthep, Wiset Sangkhawisit, and Nikorn Wittayaphan were arrested near Thammasat University’s Tha Phrachan Campus in Bangkok and taken to the Chana Songkhram police station.

The 15 pro-democracy activists were charged by police under Article 116 of the Thai Criminal Code (‘sedition’), Article 12 of the Head of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Order 3/2015 (which bans political gatherings of five or more people), Articles 215 and 216 of the Criminal Code (‘assembly of more than ten people threatening acts of violence’ and ‘refusal to comply with an official order to disperse’, respectively), and Article 108 of the Road Traffic Act (‘obstruction of traffic’).

The 15 human rights defenders were detained at the two police stations for 48 hours before being transported to the Ratchada Criminal Court in Bangkok on May 24, 2018. On the same day, after initially agreeing to a police request for a further 12-day pre-trial detention, the court ordered the release of the 15 human rights defenders, with bail set at 100,000 baht (approximately 2,600 Euros) each, on condition that they do not engage in any political activities.

The Observatory recalls that the Thai authorities have a long record of judicial harassment against Mr. Rangsiman Rome [1], Mr. Sirawit Seritiwat [2], and Mr. Anon Nampa [3].

The Observatory condemns the arbitrary arrest, detention, and judicial harassment of Mr. Rangsiman Rome, Mr. Sirawit Seritiwat, Mr. Piyarat Chongthep, Ms. Chonthicha Jangrew, Mr. Anon Nampa, Ms. Nuttaa Mahattana, Mr. Ekachai Hongkangwan, Mr. Chokchai Pairatchata, Mr. Nikorn Wittayaphan, Mr. Wiset Sangkhawisit, Mr. Putthaising Pimchan, Mr. Khiri Khanthong, Mr. Wirote Trongngamrak, and two other pro-democracy activists.

The Observatory expresses concern over the ongoing trend of repression of freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association in Thailand [4]. The Observatory urges the Thai authorities to put an end to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial level, against the 15 human rights defenders, which seems only aimed at punishing them for their peaceful and legitimate human rights activities.

Actions requested:

Please write to the Thai authorities asking them to:

i. Guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Rangsiman Rome, Mr. Sirawit Seritiwat, Mr. Piyarat Chongthep, Ms Chonthicha Jangrew, Mr. Anon Nampa, Ms. Nuttaa Mahattana, Mr. Ekachai Hongkangwan, Mr. Chokchai Pairatchata, Mr. Nikorn Wittayaphan, Mr. Wiset Sangkhawisit, Mr. Putthaising Pimchan, Mr. Khiri Khanthong, Mr. Wirote Trongngamrak, and two other pro-democracy activists;

ii. Put an end to all forms of harassment – including at the judicial level – againstMr. Rangsiman Rome, Mr. Sirawit Seritiwat, Mr. Piyarat Chongthep, Ms. Chonthicha Jangrew, Mr. Anon Nampa, Ms. Nuttaa Mahattana, Mr. Ekachai Hongkangwan, Mr. Chokchai Pairatchata, Mr. Nikorn Wittayaphan, Mr. Wiset Sangkhawisit, Mr. Putthaising Pimchan, Mr. Khiri Khanthong, Mr. Wirote Trongngamrak, and two other pro-democracy activists, as well as against all human rights defenders in Thailand, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance or fear of reprisals;

iii. Guarantee in all circumstances the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and the right to freedom of opinion and expression of all human rights defenders in Thailand;

iv. Conform to the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, in particular with Articles 1, 5(a), and 12.2;

v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments to which Thailand is a state party.

Addresses:

· Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, Prime Minister of Thailand, Fax: +66 (0) 2 282 5131

· Mr. Don Pramudwinai, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, Fax: +66 (0) 2 643 5320; Email: minister@mfa.go.th

· Air Chief Marshal Prajin Juntong, Minister of Justice of Thailand, Fax: +66 (0) 2 953 0503

· Pol Gen Chaktip Chaijinda, Commissioner-General of the Royal Thai Police, Fax: +66 (0) 2 251 5956 / +66 (0) 2 251 8702

· Mr. Wat Tingsamit, Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand, Email: help@nhrc.or.th

· H.E. Mr. Thani Thongphakdi, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Thailand to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 715 10 00 / 10 02; Email: mission.thailand@ties.itu.int

· Embassy of Thailand in Brussels, Belgium, Fax: +32 2 648 30 66; Email: thaibxl@pophost.eunet.be

Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of Thailand in your respective country.

***
Paris-Geneva, May 24, 2018

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and OMCT. The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

Email: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
Tel and fax FIDH: + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
Tel and fax OMCT: + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

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