Thailand: pro-democracy defenders arrested after delivering a speechEvent
- Initial Date
- May 10, 2022
- Event Description
Joseph (pseudonym) was arrested around 10.00 today (10 May) while leaving his house to join the activists submitting a petition to the US Embassy calling for the release of detained activists and the repeal of the royal defamation law. The police officers who arrested him presented an arrest warrant on a royal defamation charge resulting from a speech he gave at the protest at the King Taksin the Great Monument at Wongwian Yai on Chakri Memorial Day (6 April).
During his speech, Joseph talked about the history of how the ruling class in Southeast Asia come to power, especially in the ancient kingdoms located in the area currently known as Thailand, and how the Chakri dynasty came to rule Siam.
Activist Somyot Pruksakasemsuk from the activist network Citizens for the Abolition of 112 said that Joseph was a member of the network and that he came up with the idea that the network should petition embassies to demand the release of political prisoners.
Somyot said that Joseph’s speech was about the history of Chakri Memorial Day, noting that previous court rulings stated that speaking about history does not constitute an offense under the royal defamation law, leading him to speculate that Joseph was arrested to prevent yesterday’s protest at the US Embassy.
“We’ll keep going, and we will let the world know about this, especially the US, which is a country from which we will campaign the use of social sanctions against the judges, the police, or anyone related to the justice system,” Somyot said.
Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) reported that after his arrest, Joseph was taken to the Police Club on Vibhavadi Road, even though the charge against him is under the jurisdiction of Buppharam Police Station in Thonburi. He was then taken to the Thonburi Criminal Court for a temporary detention request and was later granted bail on a 200,000-baht security.
The Court also set the conditions that he must not participate in activities which damage the monarchy or cause public disorder, and must not leave the country.
Joseph was previously charged with royal defamation and sedition for reading out a statement during the 26 October 2020 protest in front of the German Embassy.
Another activist has been arrested and charged with royal defamation for a speech given at the Chakri Memorial Day protest on 6 April 2022.
Mint (pseudonym) was arrested on Tuesday evening (10 May). She said that she and other activists were eating at a restaurant on Chaeng Wattana after the protest at the US Embassy when around 10 police officers came to present an arrest warrant, leading her to speculate that the officers had been following her since the event at the Embassy.
She was taken to the Police Club on Vibhavadi Road, where she was detained overnight before being taken to court for a temporary detention request. According to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), Mint was charged with royal defamation, violation of the Computer Crimes Act, and using a sound amplifier without permission.
TLHR also reported that, according to the inquiry officer from Buppharam Police Station, three people are being charged for speeches given during the Chakri Memorial Day protest: Mint, student activist Sopon Surariddhidhamrong, and Joseph (pseudonym).
Joseph was arrested on Tuesday morning (10 May) and charged with royal defamation. He was later granted bail on a 200,000-baht security and was given the same conditions later given to Mint. TLHR said that his speech did not mention the current king, and that, in his testimony, Joseph said that several writers and academics have discussed the execution of King Taksin, such as Sulak Sivaraksa, Nidhi Eoseewong, and Sujit Wongthes. He also mentioned a previous court ruling that the royal defamation law does not cover former kings.
Sopon is currently held in pre-trial detention on another royal defamation charge resulting from a speech he gave at a protest on 22 April 2022. He was arrested on 1 May and subsequently denied bail. TLHR said that the police will visit Sopon in prison next week to notify him of the charges.
The inquiry officer said that Mint was charged for her speech, in which she said that King Taksin was not beaten to death with a sandalwood club or allowed to enter monkhood as history books have it, but was beheaded on order from King Phutthayotfa Chulalok, who ascended the throne as the first monarch in the Chakri dynasty after he seized power in 1782. She also spoke about the creation of the Equestrian Statue of King Chulalongkorn.
On Wednesday (11 May), Mint was granted bail by the Thonburi Provincial Court on a 200,00-baht security. The Court gave her the conditions that she must not participate in activities which are damaging to the monarchy or cause public disorder, and prohibited her from leaving the country.
Mint, Joseph, and Sopon are among 194 people currently facing royal defamation charges for participating in pro-democracy protests in 209 cases. Of this number, 43 cases are related to speeches given at protests.
- Impact of Event
- Gender of HRD
- (Arbitrary) Arrest and Detention
- Judicial Harassment
- Rights Concerned
- Freedom of assembly
- Freedom of expression
- Right to liberty and security
- Right to Protest
- Pro-democracy defender
- Monitoring Status
- Event Location
- Event Location
- Summary for Publications
On 10 May 2022, two pro-democracy defenders whose name are withheld, including a WHRD, were arrested by the police on royal defamation charges after delivering a speech during a protest in Bangkok, Thailand.