Thailand: Arbitrary arrest and harassment of pro-democracy activists must stop

26/08/2020
Statement

Paris-Geneva, August 26, 2020 – Thai authorities must immediately stop the arbitrary arrest and harassment of peaceful pro-democracy activists and ensure they can exercise their rights to freedom of assembly and expression, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders urged today.

Amid ongoing nationwide demonstrations by students and pro-democracy activists to demand the dissolution of Parliament, a new Constitution, and an end to the authorities’ harassment of government critics, repression by the Thai authorities has intensified in recent weeks.

Between August 7 and August 26, 2020, police arrested 13 pro-democracy activists in connection with their participation in recent peaceful demonstrations in Bangkok and in Pathumthani Province, north of Bangkok. Two of them were arrested multiple times during this period.

All 13 pro-democracy activists who have been arrested so far face trumped-up charges under Article 116 of the Thai Criminal Code (“sedition”), which prescribes prison terms of up to seven years.

Many of the 13 pro-democracy activists also face charges under various other laws, including:

• Article 32 of the Public Assembly Act (“failure to comply with the order or notification of the surveillance officer”).
• Article 14(3) of the Computer Crimes Act (“entering into a computer system, any computer data that is an offence related to national security”).
• Article 215 of the Criminal Code (“assembly intended to commit acts of violence”).
• Article 385 of the Criminal Code (“obstructing public way”).
• Article 9(2) of the Emergency Decree (“assembly or gathering of persons […] which may cause unrest”).
• Article 114 of the Land Traffic Act (“obstructing the traffic”)
• Article 4 of the Control of the Use of Amplifier Act (“use of loudspeakers without permission”).
• Article 19 of the Maintenance of the Cleanliness and Orderliness Act (“placing object on road”).
• Article 34 of Communicable Disease Act (“participating in the acts that increase the risk for infection”).

The 13 pro-democracy activists are:

• Mr. Anon Nampa, human rights lawyer, was arrested on August 7, 2020, in Bangkok in connection with his participation in a peaceful pro-democracy protest at Bangkok’s Democracy Monument on July 18, 2020; he was released on bail on August 8, 2020. He was arrested for a second time on August 19, 2020, in Bangkok in connection with his participation in a peaceful pro-democracy protest at Bangkok’s Democracy Monument on August 3, 2020; he was released on bail on August 20, 2020. He was arrested for the third time on August 25, 2020, in Bangkok in connection with his participation in a peaceful pro-democracy protest at Thammasat University’s Rangsit campus in Pathumthani Province on August 10, 2020; he was released on bail on the same day.
• Mr. Panupong Chadnok, Eastern Youth for Democracy member, was arrested on August 7, 2020, in Bangkok in connection with his participation in the July 18 protest; he was released on bail on August 8, 2020. He was re-arrested on August 24, 2020, in Rayong, Rayong Province, in connection with his participation in the August 10 protest; he was released on bail on the same day.
• Mr. Parit Chiwarak, Thammasat University student activist, was arrested on August 14, 2020, in Nonthaburi Province in connection with his participation in the August 10, protest; he was released on bail on August 15, 2020.
• Mr. Baramee Chairat, Secretary-General of the Assembly of the Poor, was arrested on August 19, 2020, in Bangkok in connection with his participation in the July 18 protest; he was released on bail on August 20, 2020.
• Mr. Korakot Saengyenphan, member of the Democracy Restoration Group (DRG), was arrested on August 19, 2020, in Bangkok in connection with his participation in the July 18 protest; he was released on bail on August 20, 2020.
• Ms. Suwanna Tallek, member of the 24 June for Democracy Group, was arrested on August 19, 2020, in Bangkok in connection with her participation in the July 18 protest; she was released on bail on August 20, 2020.
• Mr. Dechathorn Bamrungmueang, member of the Rap Against Dictatorship band, arrested on August 20, 2020, in Bangkok in connection with his participation in the July 18 protest; he was released on bail on the same day.
• Mr. Thotsaporn Sinsombun, pro-democracy activist, was arrested on August 20, 2020, in Bangkok in connection with his participation in the July 18 protest; he was released on bail on the same day.
• Mr. Natthawut Somboonsap, pro-democracy activist, was arrested on August 20, 2020, in Bangkok in connection with his participation in the July 18 protest; he was released on bail on the same day.
• Mr. Thani Sasom, pro-democracy activist, was arrested on August 20, 2020, in Bangkok in connection with his participation in the July 18 protest; he was released on bail on the same day.
• Mr. Thanayut Na Ayutthaya, member of the Eleven Fingers rap band, was arrested on August 20, 2020, in Bangkok in connection with his participation in the July 18 protest; he was released on bail on the same day.
• Mr. Tattep Runagprapaikitseree, Secretary General of the Free Youth, was arrested on August 26, 2020, in Bangkok in connection with his participation in the July 18 protest; he was released on bail on the same day.
• Mr. Panumas Singprom, co-founder of the Free Youth, was arrested on August 26, 2020, in Bangkok in connection with his participation in the July 18 protest; he was released on bail on the same day.

To date, it is known that police have issued arrest warrants for 15 activists, while 16 others have been named as suspects by police pending an investigation into their participation in various pro-democracy protests. In response to police summons, 10 more pro-democracy activists have been ordered to report themselves to Bangkok’s Samranrat police station at 10:00am on August 28, 2020. They are Ms. Sirin Mungcharoen, Mr. Yamaruddin Songsiri, Mr. Chonlatis Chotisawad, Mr. Nawat Liangwattana, Mr. Jatuphat Boonpattararaksa, Ms. Pimsiri Petchnamrob, Mr. Thanachai Euruecha, Ms. Lanna Suriyo, Ms. Jirathita Thammarak, and Mr. Kannithi Limcharoen.

The Observatory strongly condemns all the above-mentioned attacks against students and pro-democracy activists and is concerned about the severe restrictions on freedom of association and freedom of expression. The Observatory urges the Thai authorities to put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against the said activists, and to guarantee, under any circumstances, their right to assemble peacefully and to express their opinion, without any hindrance or fear of reprisals.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (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.  

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