The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Thailand.
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the arrest followed by the release of Mr. Sirawit Seritiwat, Ms. Chonthicha Jaeung-Rew, Ms. Chanoknan Ruamsap, Mr. Korakot Saengyenpan and Mr. Abhisit Sapnaphapan, five of the 11 activists  arrested on December 7, 2015 and accused of violating the Head of National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Order No. 3/2015 (see background information).
According to the information received, on January 20, 2016, at around 10:30 pm, Mr. Sirawit Seritiwat was abducted by eight men wearing military uniforms, outside the gate of the Thammasat University Ransgit campus, in Pathumthani Province near Bangkok. He was blindfolded, forced onto a pick-up truck with covered plate and taken to an unknown area. When the car stopped, he was dragged to a grass field where he was forced to kneel down, hit on the head, and kicked. Mr. Seritiwat also reported being hit with a rifle barrel as he heard the sound of a gun being cocked. Around 1 am, he was taken to the Nimitmai police station in Bangkok, where he was held until the following morning, before being transferred again to Bangkok’s Thonburi Railway police station.
The police record of arrest indicated that Mr. Seritiwat was handed over to police custody by military officers from the 2nd Battalion of the Army’s 2nd Infantry Regiment.
The next day, on January 21, 2016 around 9 am, police arrested fellow student activists Ms. Chonthicha Jaeung-Rew, Ms. Chanoknan Ruamsap, and Mr. Korakot Saengyenpan, who had shown up at the Thonburi Railway police station to show solidarity with Mr. Seritiwat.
The four student activists were held at the police station until 1:30 pm before being taken to the Bangkok Military Court where the police filed a petition requesting pre-trial detention. They were released around 4 pm after the Court dismissed the police request. Around the same time, Mr. Abhisit Sapnaphapan,  was arrested in front of the Military Court and taken to the nearby Chanasongkram police station, before being transferred to the Thonburi Railway police station in relation to previous charges of violating the Head of NCPO Order No. 3/2015. Mr. Abhisit Sapnaphapan was released on January 22 at about 11:30 am after the Bangkok Military Court rejected a police request for pre-trial detention.
The five are among the eleven activists arrested then released on December 7, 2015, and accused of violating the Head of NCPO Order No. 3/2015. If indicted by military prosecutor, they will face trial before a military court, and could face up to six months of imprisonment and/or a fine not exceeding 10,000 Baht (approximately 250 Euros).
The Observatory strongly condemns the ongoing judicial harassment against the student activists, since it appears to only aim at sanctioning their legitimate human rights activities, as well as their freedom of assembly, association and expression, as enshrined in international human rights instruments.
More generally, the Observatory calls on the Thai authorities to put an end to the ongoing attempts to criminalise the 11 activists, as well as to put its legislation on gatherings and protests in line with international human rights standards ratified by Thailand.
On December 7, 2015, military authorities arrested 36 people, including student activists during a train ride from Bangkok to Hua Hin, Prachuab Kirikhan Province. Their “advocacy trip,” named “the Train Ride to Shed Light on Fraud at the Rajabhakti Park,” sought to demand the opening of an investigation into alleged corruption in the construction of the military-sponsored Rajabhakti Park in Prachuab Kirikhan Province.
On their way to Hua Hin, the activists were stopped at Baan Pong train station, Ratchaburi province, where 36 of them were arrested. They were subsequently taken in military custody to the 9th Infantry Regiment Command, a temporary military unit in Putthamonthon Buddhist Park, Nakhon Pathom. The military officers claimed to have arrested and detained them in accordance with the Head of NCPO Order No. 3/2015, which imposes a ban on political gatherings of five or more persons without a prior official authorization .
While in custody, some officers recorded their personal data and forced them to sign a pledge vowing they would not join any political movement again in the future and that they would not leave the country without the authorities’ prior permission. Lawyers were denied access to the detainees throughout their detention. All were released on the same day.
However, 11 activists, Mr. Sirawit Seritiwat, Mr. Anon Nampa, Ms. Chonthicha Jaeung-Rew, Ms. Chanoknan Ruamsap, Mr. Thanet Anantawong, Mr. Kititituch Suman, Mr. Wisarut Anukulkanm, Mr. Abhisit Sapnaphapan, Mr. Korakot Saengyenpan, Ms. Kornkanok Khumta, and Mr. Vichit Hanhaboon, refused to sign the pledge, and were therefore accused of violating the Head of NCPO Order No. 3/2015.
On December 29, 2015, the 11 activists who had refused to sign the pledge were summoned by the Thonburi Railway police. The Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR),  an organisation that provides legal representation to the activists, submitted a letter on behalf of nine of them to postpone the summons to January 8, 2016, on the grounds that the latter would not be able to show up on that date due to other ongoing judicial proceedings against them amongst others . Accordingly, the Thonburi Railway police allowed the adjournment as requested.
On December 29, only two of the 11 summoned activists appeared. Messrs. Kititituch Suman and Vichit Hanhaboon denied all charges. Mr. Vichit Hanhaboon was asked to submit an additional written defense statement to the police regarding the circumstances of the events by January 15, 2016.
On January 8, 2016, three more activists, Mr. Anon Nampa, Mr. Wisarut Anukulkanm, and Ms. Kornkanok Khumta, appeared at the police station and similarly denied all charges.
On January 13, 2016, arrest warrants were issued by the Bangkok Military Court for the six remaining activists who had failed to appear at the police station on January 8 as summoned.
If indicted by military prosecutor, the 11 activists will face trial before a military court, and could face up to six months of imprisonment and/or a fine not exceeding 10,000 Baht (approximately 250 Euros), for violations of the Head of NCPO Order No. 3/2015.
Please write to the authorities in Thailand, urging them to:
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of the 11 activists, as well as of all other human rights defenders in the country;
ii. Drop immediately and unconditionally all charges against the 11 activists, as they only seem to be aimed at sanctioning their legitimate human rights activities;
iii. Put an end to all acts of harassment - including at the judicial level - against the 11 activists, as well as against all other human rights defenders in Thailand so that they are able to carry out their work without hindrances;
iv. Repeal the Head of NCPO Order No. 3/2015, which contravenes Thailand’s human rights obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR);
v. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially:
Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”; and
Article 5(a), which states that “For the purpose of promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, at the national and international levels: to meet or assemble peacefully”;
Article 12.2, which provides that “"the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;
vi. More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with international and regional human rights instruments ratified by Thailand.
• Prime Minister, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, Government House, 1 Phitsanulok Road, Dusit, 10300, Bangkok, THAILAND; Fax: +66 (0) 2 282 5131
• Minister of Interior, Gen Anupong Paochinda, Asatang Road, Ratchabophit, 10200, Bangkok, THAILAND
• Minister of Foreign Affairs, Don Pramudwinai, Sri Ayutthaya Building, 443 Sri Ayutthaya Road, Phaya Thai, 10400, Bangkok, THAILAND; Fax: +66 (0) 2 643 5320; Email: email@example.com
• Minister of Justice, Gen Paiboon Khumchaya, 120 Chaeng Watthana Road, Laksi, 10210, Bangkok, THAILAND; Fax: +66 (0) 2 953 0503
• Pol Gen Somyot Poompanmoung, Commissioner-General of the Royal Thai Police, 1st Building, 7th Floor, Rama I Road, Pathumwan, 10330, Bangkok, THAILAND; Fax: +66 (0) 2 251 5956 / +66 (0) 2 251 8702
• Mr. Wat Tingsamit, Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand; 120 Chaeng Watthana Road, Laksi, 10210, Bangkok, THAILAND; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Permanent Mission of Thailand to the United Nations in Geneva, rue Gustave Moynier 5, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland, Tel: + 41 22 715 10 10; Fax: + 41 22 715 10 00 / 10 02; Email: email@example.com
• Embassy of Thailand in Brussels, 2 Sq. du Val de la Cambre, 1050 Ixelles, Belgium, Tel: + 32 2 640 68 10; Fax: + 32 2 648 30 66; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of Thailand in your respective country.
|Paris-Geneva, January 25, 2016|
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
The Observatory, an FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of human rights defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29
Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80