date: 8/8/2023 author: mobdatathailand

An Overview Of Public Assemblies And Harassment Following The Gatherings December 2022

  • Beach for life

At least 40 public assemblies happened in December whereas most of public assemblies were related to the activities to demand the right to bail of political prisoners, at least 33 of them including Stand Stop Imprison activities, mainly initiated with an aim to demand right to bail for detained political activists; In Bangkok, the Resistant Citizen group did the Stand Stop Imprisonment in front of the Bangkok Supreme Court. While, provincially, there are the weekly protest by the Stand Stop Tyranny conducted at Tha Phae Gate in Chiang Mai, the Stand Stop Imprisonment, in Ayutthaya, and the Stand Stop Imprisonment in Nakhon Pathom. In addition, another activity “Santa to bring our friends home” was organized by Thalu Gaz at the Democracy Monument. The participants conducted various activities to demand the right to bail of those remanded in custody including Stand Stop Imprisonment, writing on banners, writing letters to remanded friends, and telling stories of their struggle through hip-hop music.

#Overview Situation of Public Assembly

At least 40 public assemblies happened in December whereas most of public assemblies were related to the activities to demand the right to bail of political prisoners, at least 33 of them including Stand Stop Imprison activities, mainly initiated with an aim to demand right to bail for detained political activists; In Bangkok, the Resistant Citizen group did the Stand Stop Imprisonment in front of the Bangkok Supreme Court. While, provincially, there are the weekly protest by the Stand Stop Tyranny conducted at Tha Phae Gate in Chiang Mai, the Stand Stop Imprisonment, in Ayutthaya, and the Stand Stop Imprisonment in Nakhon Pathom. In addition, another activity “Santa to bring our friends home” was organized by Thalu Gaz at the Democracy Monument. The participants conducted various activities to demand the right to bail of those remanded in custody including Stand Stop Imprisonment, writing on banners, writing letters to remanded friends, and telling stories of their struggle through hip-hop music.

Moreover, In Chiangmai, there are at least two activities following the campaign solidarity for Myanmar defiance to Myanmar military government sentenced 7 students to death.The Student Council of Chiang Mai University has handed a letter to the U.S. Consulate and the Myanmar Consulate to demand more pressure and intervention of the Myanmar judiciary. On the same day, the Neo Lanna organized symbolic action including art performance, poem recitation and reading of statement to show their stance against the planned execution of the seven students. It was attended by more than 700 Thai and Myanmar people.



At least one public assembly was held on the environmental issue. It was an overnight sit-in by the Beach for Life and the People’s Network to Reclaim Breaches in front of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation from 6-9 December 2022. They demanded that the government revote the cabinet resolution which authorizes the Department of Public Works and Town & Country Planning to implement a project to prevent coastal erosion through the construction of seawall which requires an Environmental Impact Assessment. They also asked for a prompt effort to rehabilitate the beaches that have been damaged by the previous seawall construction. Eventually, various authorities accepted in principle to act in compliance with the three demands pitched by the protesters within 90-120 days before reporting the result to the cabinet.



In addition, one public assembly was held on economic issue. The Assembly of the Poor organized the Life Symposium “The Poor man’s Constitution: When the fireflies glow in the dark” in front of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives to raise the awareness of political parties about the needs of the poor, the development and advocacy of policies and the signing of the social contract to ensure a rewrite of the Constitution to address the problems of the poor and ensure equality among the people.

#Update on Legal Cases as of December 2022

A series of verdicts prior to people who exercised their freedom of expression and assembly during 2020-2021 have been delivered. Verdicts were delivered in six Section 112 cases, and 12 for cases concerning the violation of the Emergency Decree. Meanwhile, attempts to revoke bail of several activists who continue to express themselves politically though their participation in the protests during the APEC Meeting deserve close monitoring. Since the Free Youth led public assemblies on 18 July 2020 until 31 December 2022, at least 1,888 individuals have been charged for participating in public assemblies or expressing their political opinions in 1,165 cases. Of this, 292 cases have reached the final verdicts leaving more than 873 active cases pending in various stages of the procedure. Of this, 283 are youth under 18 years of age in 210 cases. Compared with November 2022, two more individuals have been charged in six new cases (counting only those who have never been charged before.) Altogether, there have been at least 3,759 legal actions against the individuals although some of them are charged for multiple offences.

Detail of key offences can be described as follows;

1. Offence pursuant to the Penal Code’s Section112, at least 225 suspects in 243 cases

An overview of the prosecution on Section 112 of 2022

The Courts only dismissed five cases from at least 32 cases that have been decided. More than a half of Section 112 cases were met with conviction verdicts and imprisonment without suspension.[8] The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Thailand is a state party protects individuals who exercise their right to freedom of expression under Article 19 and the right to freedom of peaceful assembly under Article 21. In addition, the UN Human Rights Committee has raised concern about lèse-majesté laws around the world by stating that all public figures, including those exercising the highest political authority such as heads of state and government, are legitimately subject to criticism and political opposition. Criticisms of public institutions should not be prohibited. Even though certain accusations on lese majeste may be perceived of involving an act of defamation, but the Committee holds that “imprisonment shall never be an appropriate sanction in all such cases.”

2. Sedition pursuant to the Penal Code’s Section116, at least 128 suspects in 40 cases

3. An offence against the Emergency Decree, at least 1,469 suspects in 662 cases

An overview of the prosecution on the Emergency Decree in 2022

Even though the Emergency Decree has been lifted, there are still ongoing cases related to the law under investigation. The public prosecutors and the courts can invoke Section 21 of the Public Prosecution Organ and Public Prosecutors Act 2010 which states that if a public prosecutor finds that a criminal prosecution will be of no use to the general public, will affect the national safety or security, or will impair significant interest of the State, the Attorney General may then render an order of non-prosecution. This power includes the withdrawal of the case, the appeal motion or the final appeal motion. In several such cases, the public prosecutors have decided to not prosecute cases or the Court have decided to dismiss the cases, since there was no evidence to prove how such pollical activities have led to the spread of Covid-19 pandemic.

Until now, the Emergency Decree has been invoked to criminalize those who exercise their right to freedom of assembly, particularly people who criticize the government’s performance even though such right is protected under Article 21 of the ICCPR and freedom of assembly and information under Article 19 of the ICCPR, freedom of movement under Article 12 of the ICCPR and the right to take part in the conduct of public affairs under Article 25 of the ICCPR. Nevertheless, such prosecutions are considered unnecessary and disproportionate. In addition, according to ICCPR’s Article 4, a state party may take measures derogating from their obligations under the ICCPR to the extent strictly required by the exigencies of the situation. Thailand has informed the Secretary-General of the United Nations of such derogation which became effective since 26 March 2020 until 30 June 2020. 2020, although no further effort was since made to inform the Secretary-General of the extension of the State of Emergency. Therefore, it can be construed that Thailand has not properly exercised its right of derogation in compliance with tis obligation under ICCPR from 30 June 2020 onward.

4. An offence against the Public Assembly Act, at least 132 suspects in 76 cases

5. An offence against the Computer Crimes Act, at least 159 suspects in 179 cases

6. A contempt of court, at least 36 suspects in 20 cases, and insult of the court, at least 27 suspects in 8 cases

Nonetheless, in December, several activists faced hearings to revoke their bails following their involvement with the protests during the APEC Meeting in the middle of November 2022. Joseph had a hearing to revoke his bail in Section 112 case following his speech in the “Untangling the web of lies: Who kills King Taksin?”, his participation in the #RatsadonStopAPEC2022. After the hearing, the Court decided to not revoke his bail citing not sufficient evidence to prove his participation has caused a breach of the peace. A hearing was held to revoke bails of “Get” Sophon, accused of making speech during #TourMuLaPhua on 22 April 2022, Baipor for sharing posts about the “monarchy budget”from “Thalu Wang” Facebook Page on 17 April 2022 and Tantawan “Tawan” Tuatulanon for livestreaming event in front of the UN Headquarters just before the arrival of royal motorcade on 5 March 2022. Officials of the judiciary requested the revocation of their bails due to their participation in the protests during the APEC Meeting. The Court is scheduled to rule on the cases of Get and Bai Por on 9 January 2023 and will hear the case of Tantawan “Tawan” Tuatulanon on the same day.

#Remanded Individuals in Custody

In December, Chiratchaya Sakulthong was provisionally released following her speech to demand the right to bail for Shinawatra ‘Bright’ Chankrachang on 1 August 2022 at the South Bangkok Criminal Court. She was bailed out with conditions on 14 December 2022 after spending 19 days in jail. Ukrit Santiprasitkul was imprisoned for posting five Facebook messages using alias “John New World” concerning King Rama X and the Queen and was convicted by the Lower Court for violating Section 112 in five counts, altogether liable for the imprisonment of 5 years and 30 months. The Appeals Court did not allow him to post bail. Ake (pseudonym) was indicted for sharing posts from “KTUK – Khon Thai UK” with information about King Rama X and the Thawee Wattana prison. As of this month, 11 individuals are still remanded in custody.

There are therefore six convicted prisoners including Anchan (Section112), Suppakorn (Computer Crime Act), “Ma” NutchanonCorporal “Methin” (Section 112), Kritsana and Wannapa (Organization For a Thai Federation case, being members of criminal associations).

It is significant that the right to bail is a fundamental right based on the principle of presumption of innocence. It is enshrined in international law, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)’s Article 11 (1) which states that everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence, and the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)’s Article 14(2) which states that everyone charged with a criminal offence shall have the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law. Thailand has acceded to ICCPR since 29 October 1996, and it came into force for us since 30 January 1997.

#Harassment in December 2022

Incidences of harassment in December 2022 have substantially decreased compared to November given a lack of large-scale public assemblies. There were also no meetings of prominent figures like the APEC 2022 meeting. This has led to a decline of harassment against the activists to prevent them from protesting. At least 11 members of the public were subjected to harassment by the authorities due to the following reasons;

Harassment due to the visit of VIP persons

Members of the royal family

At least three members of the public and activists in the South were visited by plainclothes officials at their residence or their office since the officials wanted to know if any one them would participate in the graduation ceremony to be held at the Surat Thani Rajabhat University to be presided over by the Princess Bajrakitiyabha. Wan (pseudonym) revealed that three plainclothes officials came to visit at home claiming they were just checking in and had a chat. They tried to persuade Wan to talk about different things and to take photo. Kwang (pseudonym) said that ว่า three plainclothes police officials have gone to see her at her office but could not find her there. They thus asked from her colleagues if she was going to participate in the graduation ceremony or not. In addition, another local activist was harassed by the officials who kept following and asking about their movement during the graduation ceremony. They have gone to their home and to the coffee place. The officials wanted the person to confirm that they would not go to Surat Thani during this week.

A student of Mahasarakham University had the banners which read “all humans are born equal” and “the federalist degrees” snatched from their hands by the military officials while they were holding the banners at the spot where relatives of the graduates were gathered awaiting the arrival of Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. On their way back home, one student had the banners forcibly taken by the officials who also made them fall into the pond. Following the incidence, the plainclothes police officials tried to bring the students to the police station citing the need to talk with them, but the students refused to comply with their demand. While the students were heading home, they were followed by the vehicles of the police, military and Ministry of Social Development and Human Security. The officials were deployed around their living place. They were probably there to prevent them from doing any action until Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn left the university. On the following day, men clad like plainclothes officials were lurking around the dormitory of the group of students as well.

Some activists of Free Ubon were followed and harassed by the officials during the visit of King Rama X to Ubonratchathani. In addition, it was revealed that two high school students were held in custody at the Muang Ubonratchathani Police Station after they had flashed three fingers during the royal visit. While being held in custody there, they were denied access to their lawyers. It was reported that their parents and teachers were summoned to the police station to sign a agreement to ensure the students would not repeat such action again.After six hours, the two students were released without charges although the police did not allow them to have a copy of their daily record.

Harassment to Disrupt Activities

The Law of Left students of Faculty of Law, Chiang Mai University, announced that they would hold an event to play Patani Colonial Territory boardgame. Just before the start, one plainclothes official with unknown affiliation has inquired about the activity. In addition, it was reported that the plainclothes official asked to see footage related to the event from surveillance cameras of the Faculty of Law and copied files from the surveillance cameras. This has prompted the organizers to call off the event.

#Harassment Trend in January 2023

In December 2022, incidences of harassment could be mainly attributed to the visits of prominent figures. The authorities kept their close watch on any attempt to express opinion by the public. Any political activities including ones with many participants, or ones with people holding some paper could result in the participants being held in custody. The authorities have never been hesitant to exercise their power to deprive people’s rights and freedoms to ensure public order and national security. It can be projected that harassment in 2023 will be on an increase and tends to escalate toward more violence. Any political activities by even small activist groups or even by one single person could be subjected to surveillance and stifled by the authorities, particularly during the visits of prominent figures.

According to the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (“UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders”), Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms pursuant to its article 1. It also recognizes that individuals or groups have the right to carry out their human rights activities peacefully without any fear or without being retaliated pursuant to Articles 5. Coherent to Article 4, human rights defenders shall have their civil and political rights protected according to the ICCPR and the state shall use any measure necessary to protect an individual from the violation of their rights as a result of the activities according to Articles 2 and 15. In light of what happened to the civil society and the activists, it appears the Thai state has failed to ensure a safe and enabling environment for the implementation of human rights activities. On the contrary, civil society has reported that the authorities have followed, conducted surveillance, harassed, and threatened human rights defenders and protesters constantly.