Thailand: 34 activists detained for peaceful protest on one-year anniversary of 2014 coupEvent
- Initial Date
- May 22, 2015
- Event Description
At least 34 people arrested on Friday evening for commemorating the coup were released without charge, on condition that they stop political activities. However, student activists in Khon Kaen face charges and were released on 7,500 baht bail. The first arrests occurred about 6 pm after a group of students gathered at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC), Siam Square. With about a hundred police officers and about 20 plainclothes officers deployed in the area, the students sat peacefully for a few minutes before the police arrested them. The arrests angered other protesters and led to a confrontation with the police. At about 8 pm all of the protesters were arrested and taken to Pathumwan Police Station. The total number of the protesters detained was unclear. Prachatai found that at least 34 were taken to the police station. Most of the 34 were student activists. Three of them are Natchacha Kongudom, a transgender student activist, arrested before for flashing a three-fingered salute, an anti-coup symbol, Rangsiman Rome, a student activist from Thammasat University, and Puthida Chaianan, a pro-democracy activist. About 60 people gathered in front of the police station to pressure the police to release the protesters. At around 3 am on Saturday, they were released on condition. The police however said they may charge some of them later. At least one protester was assaulted during the confrontation at the BACC. Songtham Kaewpanpruk, a pro-democracy activist, was assaulted and hospitalized at Hua Chiew Hospital. He was punched in the face and kicked in the chest. Earlier on Friday afternoon, three activists from Resistant Citizen were arrested in Bangkok, but have already been released without charge. In the northeastern province of Khon Kaen, seven student activists from the Dao Din group based at Khon Kaen University were detained after they held an activity to commemorate the coup on Friday morning. The police charged them with defying a coup order and released them on Saturday morning on 7,500 baht bail each. UPDATE: 05/ 06/ 2015 Thai police summon student activists for violating junta's order in coup anniversary At least four student activists who last week were detained for an attempt to commemorate the first anniversary of the military coup were summoned to hear charges for violating the junta's order. The police accused the student activists of violating the junta's National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) which prohibits an assembly of more than five people. On 22 May evening, about 50 people, most of them were student activists gathered at the Bangkok Art and Culture Center (BACC) as they planned to hold an activity to commemorate the coup which ousted Former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on 22 May 2014. They confronted with about 100 police officers and plainclothes officers who deployed the area. The incident ended up with 38 people were detained and taken to the Pathumwan Police Station. The students were released early morning of the next day after they were forced to sign on their ID copy and stated that they would stop political activity. At least three people, including Rangsiman Rome, Natchacha Kongudom, and Songtham Kaewpanpruek, were injured during the confrontation. Rangsiman Rome said he was hit at at his stomach, ear, neck and chin, while Songtham was kicked at his ribs and choked until he was unconscious. On Thursday and Friday, According to the Human Right Watch, the summon documents were mailed to eleven students. Four of them are Rattapon Supasopon, Songtam Kaewpanpruek, Chonticha Jang-raiw and Rangsiman himself. The police ordered them to report in on 8 June. According to Rangsiman, a law student from Thammasat University and one of the people detained on 22 May, they will discuss with a lawyer to see whether the group should report in. However, he would like to talk with the others to decide what to do next first. Rangsiman told Prachatai that he expect no justice under the junta regime. "Since the law does not serve the democratic principle, but a group of people with guns, the prosecution process will not abide by the rules of law which does not exist in the first place." Rangsiman said he might be jailed up to one year and called it "a political punishment." Despite the threat of being jailed, Rangsiman said he will continue to fight. "I believed that I am doing the right thing. As long as I am capable to do and believe that Thailand could be better, I will keep fighting." He also urged people not to let such injustice getting away by showing support to the activists. "People have to make sure this thing[suppression of freedom] was not supposed to happen in order to warn the junta that it cannot do whatever it want." UPDATE: 23/ 06/ 2015 Activist facing charge for comemorating coup released on bail The military court has granted bail to a student activist arrested on the first anniversary of the military coup last month after the police accsed him of defying the junta's order. Eight other activists will report in on Wednesday. Chatchai or Thatchapong Kaedam, nicknamed Boy, an anti-coup activist from the Student and People Network for Thailand's Reform (STR) reported himself to the police at the Pathumwan Police Station. Chatchai was accompanied by Puangthip Boonsanong, his lawyer. After the interrogation, the police accused Chaichai of violating the junta's National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) which prohibits gathering of more than five people and request the military court to detain Chatchai. The court approved the police custody pettition but granted bail to chatchai after he submitted 10,000 bail with the condition that he will stop political activity and expression. He was released from Bangkok Remand Prison at 8pm on Monday. "Thank you for my ideology and my belief that allows me to understand more about human heart and mind. I just want to see more viable reform and want to contribute to the poor and everyone. I only want to see better world.", wrote Chatchai on his Facebook . Puangthip Boonsanong, Chatchai's lawyer said that her client reported in because he did not want to hide and to show that he did not take part in the commemoration of the coup. Chatchai was one of the about 40 activists detained by the police on 22 May 2015 when a commeoration was planned to be held at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC). Eight others were summoned to hear charges. He is the only one who reported in so far. Graduated from the Ramkamhaeng University's Faculty of Political Science, Chatchai was an active member of the Student and People Network for Thailand's Reform (STR). He and the STR which protested against the Thaksin Shinawatra's administration in 2006 and Yingluck Shinawatra's administration in 2014 before the military coup finally ousted her. UPDATE: 24/ 06/ 2015 Police arrests student activist in hospital The police on Monday morning arrested Natchacha Kongudom, a transgender student activist, while she is admitted in hospital. Natchacha, 21, is one of the eight students wanted on an arrest warrant for violating the junta's order when they attempted to commemorate the first anniversary of the coup d'etat on 22 May. Natchacha has been admitted to the Vibhavadi Hospital. The police arrested her on Monday about 10am after she and seven others refused to report in to hear charges as an act of civil disobedience. On 22 May, about 40 activists, most of them university students, were arrested when they gathered and prepared to commemorate the coup at the Bangkok Art and Cultural Centre, Pathumwan, Bangkok. Moreover, three student activists were arrested at the Democracy Monument and taken to Samranrat Police Station. They were released a few hours later without charge after the police made a record on the police' s daily report. Series of arrests are expected today, the 83rd anniversary of the Siamese Revolutation on 24 June 1932, as pro-democracy activists exploited the opportunity to call for the return of democracy. UPDATE: 25/ 06/ 2015 About 20 police deployed at safe house of embattled student activists; arrest expected About 20 police officers, most of them in plainclothes, have been deployed the entrance of a Bangkok safe house of the 11 of 14 student activists, wanted on arrest warrants for protesting. 11 of 14 are those wanted on arrest warrants for commemorating the first anniversary of the coup at the Bangkok Art and Cultural Center and Khon Kaen on 22 May. Rangsiman Rome, one of the 11, told Prachatai that they will not resist the arrest as this fight is coming to an end. They will continue to fight the case in the court, but the struggle for democracy will continue. The group asked Prachatai not to disclose their location because they do not want their supporters to come and confront with the police. The confrontation may lead to more injuries, Rangsiman said. The activists on Wednesday 24 June, the 83rd anniversary of the Siamese Revolution, gathered in front of Pathumwan Police Station, awaiting the arrest on an important day of Thai democracy. As about a hundred of supporters came to give moral support, the police did not arrest the group. UPDATE: 29/ 06/ 215 14 anti-junta student activists arrested At 5.30 pm on Friday police arrested 14 activists wanted on arrest warrants for anti-junta activities at their safe house, Suan Nguen Mee Ma, Charoen Krung, Bangkok. The police took them to Phra Ratchawang Police Station for interrogation. About 50 people came to give the group moral support. The police are expected to take them to Bangkok military court and submit a custody petition. The 14 activists are seven members of Dao Din, a student activist group based in Khon Kaen, and seven people accused of violating the junta's order by gathering in an assembly of five or more people on 22 May, the first anniversary of the military coup. The 14 activists on Wednesday joined the Neo Democracy Movement (NDM), an anti-coup group mostly composed of student activists across the country. UPDATE: 03/ 07/ 2015 13 of 14 anti-junta activists shave their heads to protest separate detention The Thai authorities have put 13 of the 14 anti-junta activists into separate prison cells, a decision which the activists in detention have protested, saying that it has political implications. On Thursday, 2 June 2015, Bangkok Remand Prison separated the 13 male anti-junta activists in custody into groups of 2-3 and detained them in different compounds of the prison. According to Rangsiman Rome, one of the 13, the authorities' decision to separate them has political implications. He said that the measure must have been handed down from the junta which intends to pressure the activists into giving in. He added that other crime suspects who were sent to the remand prison at around the same time as the activist group have not been put into separate compounds. One of the 13 detained activists, Jatupat Boonpattararaksa, aka Pai, from Dao Din student activist group based in the northeastern province of Khon Kaen, believes that the authorities want to obstruct them from communicating with each other. All the 13 decided to shave their heads to protest the authorities' decision to separate them from each other. On the same day, Niran Pitakwatchara, a Commissioner dealing with political and civil rights of the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand (NHRC) went to Bangkok Remand Prison to visit the embattled activists. He expressed concerns for the safety of the 13 activists once they are being separated and the fact they will not be able to communicate as a group. He added that the authorities should have been more concerned for their safety. Besides Niran, many academics and activists also came to the prison to give moral support to the anti-junta activists. These include Piyabutr Saengkanokkul and Worachet Pakeerut, Thammasat University law academics from the Nitirat Group, which has campaigned for reform of Thailand's l��se majest�� law. UPDATE: 08/ 07/ 2015 14 embattled anti-junta activists reunite with their families The 14 embattled anti-junta activists reunite with their families after nearly two weeks of detention. However, their charges linger on. At around 5:30 am on Wednesday, 8 July 2015, the prison staffs of Bangkok Remand Prison freed the 14 embattled anti-junta activists after Bangkok Military Court rejected the custody petition against the 14 yesterday. The 14 were welcomed by families, friends, and a jubilant crowd who camped out at the prison's gate to await their release. Many were among those who went to the military court on Monday morning to campaign for the unconditional release of the 14 activists together with pro-democracy academics, activists, and many others. Rangsiman Rome, one of the 14 embattled activists, told the media that him and his friends were not ill-treated during the detention and that the group vowed to fight on. The 13 male activists of the group were transported in a van and dropped in front of the remand prison to be released at around 5:30 am on Wednesday. Cholticha Jang-rew, the only female activist of the group was first transported to her friend's house in Bangkok, but was later brought back to the prison's gate to be reunited with her family and activist friends. Together the 14 sang __�Sang Daw Heng Satha' (the light of faith from the stars), a well known Thai rally anthem in front of the prison's gate. They group said that they will continue to campaign for democracy and freedom and that their case should be handled by the civilian court not the military one since they are civilians. Despite their release, the 14 activists will still have to stand on trials for allegedly breaking the junta's National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO)'s Order No. 3/2015, which prohibits any political gathering of five or more persons and Article 116 of the Thai Penal Code, sedition law. If found guilty they could face up to 7 years imprisonment. Yesterday, 7 June, Sunai Phasuk, a researcher of Human Rights Watch (HRW), posted his comment on his twitter account "although the military court rejected the custody petition against the 14, they are still charged with a serious case with the penalty of up to 7 years imprisonment. What happened was just meant to improve the image[of the regime] and reduce pressure."
- Impact of Event
- (Arbitrary) Arrest and Detention
- Violence (physical)
- Rights Concerned
- Freedom of association
- Right to liberty and security
- Right to Protest
- Event Location
- Summary for Publications
On 22 May 2015, at least 34 student activists were arrested by police officers for commemorating the coup. The first arrests occurred about 6 pm after a group of students gathered at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC) with about a hundred police officers and about 20 plainclothes officers deployed in the area. All were released the next day.