An overview of public assemblies in March 2021

Updates on the public assemblies during March 2021
Chana La

# A review of public assemblies as of March 2021

Mob Data Thailand has found public assemblies in March have continued incessantly leading to a spike in the prosecutions against the participants, as many as 581 individuals in 268 cases within three months according to the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR). There have been three crackdowns on public assemblies, all of which are indicative of an increase of restriction of the right to freedom of assembly and expression.

@Chana La

According to the documentation and observation of Amnesty International Thailand and ILAW through Mob Data project in March 2021, it can be concluded that;

- March saw 86 public assemblies while the authorities have used force to suppress thee of them. It did not appear that the officials have acted in line with the guidelines for the use of less-lethal weapons to enforce the law against the participants who have been arrested and held in custody in an unofficial detention facility according to the Penal Code. The arrests have been made based on flagrant offence with the use of unnecessary and disproportionate force.

- TLHR reports that there have been 199 more individuals in 61 cases facing the prosecution as a result of their involvement with public assemblies and political expressing, compared to February. At least 19 protesters are arrested this month including the arrests without warrant. Common charges are concerned with the offence against the Emergency Decree and Regulation for communicable disease control. At least 140 individuals in 20 cases have been accused of committing the offence. It was also the first time the officials pressed charges against as many as 18 members of the We Volunteer, most of whom were youth while two were children for an offence of being members of secret society or criminal association pursuant to Sections 209 and 210 of the Penal Code.

- There has been an increase of individuals slapped with cases for violating Section112 and according to TLHR, there are as many as 82 individuals in 74 cases. 13 of them have been remanded in custody including six who are detained pretrial. Seven others have been remanded in custody on other charges. Altogether 20 are being detained.

- Core members of the Khana Ratsadorn including Parit Chiwarak, Anon Nampha, Somyot Pruksakasemsuk, Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, Jatupat Boonpattararaksa, and Panupong Chadnok have been denied bail persistently. Even though the Ratchada Criminal Court has granted bail to Patiwat Saraiyaem, but the surety required is as high as 200,000 baht and the defendant has to report himself and to refrain from travelling abroad. Meanwhile, Parit Chiwarak and Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul continued with their hunger strike while imprisoned to demand the restoration of the right to temporary release of political prisoners.

- Children under 18 are prosecuted for criminal offences similar to adults. March 2021 saw at least 33 children in 34 cases being slapped with criminal charges including an offence against Section 112, as many as six. Of this, two are only 14. Children continue to face violence during the arrests. While the arrests fail to protect the best interest of the child, the prosecutions against them fall outside the proper juvenile justice process.

# Demands of the protesters and the laws used for prosecution

The demands of most of the protesters in at least 45 assemblies in March 2021 continue to coalesce around the restoration of the right to temporary release of core members of Khana Ratsadorn and other protesters who are still remanded in custody (#FreeOurFriends) since as of now as many as 20 are incarcerated in jail while some of them including Parit Chiwarak and Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul show their civil disobedience by conducting a hunger strike and show their solidarity to their fellow political prisoners.

_@smthann__

According to Mob Data Thailand. at least three major public assemblies took place in March 2021

- Two major gatherings were organized by Redem as leaderless protests. One was conducted on 6 March 2021 including the march from Lat Phrao intersection to the Criminal Court to dispose of garbage at the court, as a symbolic expression toward the judiciary due to the indictment of their protest leaders from the demonstration during 19-20 September 2020 and the denial of the right to temporary release for political prisoners pending the trial. Nevertheless, more than 48 members of the We Volunteer were arrested inside the Major Cineplex Ratchayothin, even though they did not appear to be involved or have participated in the public assembly. Another public assembly was held on 20 March 2021 at Sanam Luang to make their demands for the reform of the monarchy heard. 32 arrests were made.

- Another major public assembly was organized by the United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration on 24 March 2021 at the Ratchaprasong intersection with speeches delivered by prominent leaders including Passaravalee “Mind” Thanakitvibulphol, Attapon “Kruyai” Buapat, and Shinawatra “Bright” Chankrachang to demand ‘free our friends’ and a reform of the monarchy. From her speech at this event, Passaravalee finds herself slapped with another case against Section 112 reported by the United Thai People for the Protection of the Monarchy.

After each public assembly, the Thai government continues to prosecute protest leaders and participants invoking the Emergency Decree and the Regulation for communicable disease control accusing them of breaching COVID-19 restriction. As a result, there have been as many as 444 individuals being charged for violating the Emergency Decree since its being imposed in March 2020 until March 2021 in 128 cases (as of 6 April 2021, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR))

Apart from the Emergency Decree, the Communicable Disease Act has also been put in use to restrict freedom of assembly along with other legal provisions including Sections 215 and 216 (illegal assembly) of the Penal Code and other laws aiming to restrict freedom of assembly including the Controlling Public Advertisement by Sound Amplifier Act, the Land Traffic Act the Act on Maintenance of the Cleanliness and other laws aiming to restrict unlawful assemblies which have been used against the We Volunteer, particularly Sections 209 and 210 of the Penal Code. More than 18 individuals have been charged including three children.

เจ้าหน้าที่เข้าพื้นที่บริเวณสี่แยกราชประสงค์ ประกาศพรก.ฉุกเฉิน@FAOZEE

Nevertheless, other forms of public assembly have emerged including the Talufah Walk organized by the Khana Ratsadorn and led by Jatupat ‘Pai’ Boonpattararaksa and the People GO Network. They have marched from Nakhon Ratchasima to the Democracy Monument, Bangkok starting from 16 February until 7 March 2021 covering 17 days and the distance of 247.5 kilometers. They were joined en route by different groups including the representatives of the Dong Mafai mining group, Feminist’s Liberation Front, Panupong “Mike” Chadnok, mothers of core members of the Khana Ratsadorn. Various activities were conducted along the route including public discussions, music performance, and film screening. Later core members of the Talufah Walk and the Khana Ratsadorn including Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, Jatupat Boonpattararaksa and Panupong Chadnok were remanded in custody on 8 March 2021. Another group, the Talufah Walk V2, led by the UNME of Anarchy, has continued the activities to keep alive the spirit of Talufah Walk and has organized a demonstration on 13 March 2021 with a walk from the Democracy Monument to the Government House and setting their Talufah Village there for 15 days before being cracked down by the crowd control police early morning, around 6.00 on 28 March 2021 and another crackdown on 18.30 the same day.

@Fang

Apart from condemning the crackdown on the three public assemblies, the protesters have raised economic and social issues and demanded solutions to address the right to land of the ethnic peoples at Bang Kloy Bon and Jai Pendin and the arrests of the ethnic people there. It has led to at least four public assemblies in Bangkok and Chiang Mai as well as the demonstration to demand the rights of farmers who suffer from the Covid-19 pandemic and the protracting protests on labor rights of We Fair and Raider. The public assemblies to show solidarity with the people of Myanmar who are opposed to the military coup have also been going on. In addition, there have been at least four public assemblies of the so-called Protection of the Monarchy Group at the Bangkok Cultural Center in Bangkok.

# Prosecutions against children

According to TLHR, since 2020, at least 33 children under 18 have been prosecuted for exercising their freedom of expression and pollical assembly in 34 cases. Six of them are slapped with charges for violating the Penal Code’s Section 112 in five cases, the youngest of whom are 14, two of them as a result of their involvement in the public assembly led by REDEM during 20-21 March 2021.

Just in March, at least 18 children were arrested and charged for participating or being present at the demonstrations, mostly for violating the Emergency Decree and the Communicable Disease Act including at least two children accused of an offence against Section112 with detail of the public assemblies as follows;

- During the public assembly on 6 March 2021, two children were arrested without warrant and accused of violating the Emergency Decree, the Communicable Disease Act and Sections 209 and 210 of the Penal Code. They may face up to ten years in jail.

- During the public assembly on 20 March 2021, seven children were arrested by the crowd control police including two 14-year-old children who are charged for violating Section112. Another two children were charged for violating Sections 215, 216 and 138 of the Penal Code (physically abuse the officials while performing their duties), the Emergency Decree and the Communicable Disease Act while the last three were facing charges from Section 397 of the Penal Code (public nuisance) and fined before their release. Nevertheless, at the arrests, all of the children were taken to the Border Patrol Police Region 1 and similar to other adults, were forced to hear the charges against them at night and were later released.

- The public assembly on 24 March 2021 saw one child being charged for violating the Emergency Decree.

- The public assembly on 28 March 2021, triggered by the morning crackdown, saw six children from 15-17 charged for violating the Emergency Decree, the Communicable Disease Act, the Land Traffic Act, the Act on Maintenance of the Cleanliness and the Controlling Public Advertisement by Sound Amplifier Act. Nevertheless, it did not appear that parents of the two children were present during their interviews and bail application. This has led to problems concerning the protection of the rights of the child during the prosecution and application for bail. As a result of the crackdown on public assembly in the afternoon, one child was charged for violating the Emergency Decree and the Penal Code’s Section 138 (resisting or obstructing an official), Section 392 (putting a person in fear or in fright), and Section 370 (creating a noise or disturbance).

# At least 6 public assemblies have led to the prosecutions on one of the most common charges, an offence against the Emergency Decree.

1. The public assembly led by Khana Ratsadorn Khong Chee Moon on 1 March 2021 at a branch of the police station inside Khon Kaen University to demand justice for the forcible crackdown on the 28 February 2021 public assembly at the 11th Infantry Regiment in Bangkok. This public assembly has led to the prosecution against nine individuals for violating the Emergency Decree, the Communicable Disease Act, the Land Traffic Act and the Controlling Public Advertisement by Sound Amplifier Act.

@สมา

2. The public assembly led by Redem to march from the Lat Phrao intersection to the Criminal Court to dispose of garbage in front of the court on 6 March 2021 (opens new window). It has led to the arrest of at least 48 members of Wevo and members of the public at Major Cineplex Ratchayothin. At least 18 arrests were made without warrant and they were charged for violating the Emergency Decree, the Communicable Disease Act and the Penal Code’s Section 209 and 210, being members of secret society or criminal association.

@Thikamporn Tamtiang

3. The public assembly led by UNME of Anarchy on 13 March 2021 to march from the Democracy Monument to set up the Talufah Village at the Government House in Bangkok. At least two individuals were charged for violating the Emergency Decree, the Communicable Disease Act, “obstructing the traffic area” under the Land Traffic Act, “placing or putting any object on the road” under the Act on Maintenance of the Cleanliness and the “unauthorized use of sound system” under the Controlling Public Advertisement by Sound Amplifier Act.

@Thikamporn Tamtiang

@Chana La

4. The public assembly led by Redem on 20 March 2021 at Sanam Luang in Bangkok (opens new window)which faced forcible dispersal and some protesters were attacked by the ultraroyalists. Arrests were made and they were charged for violating the Emergency Decree, the Communicable Disease Act, the Penal Code’s Section 112 (2 minors), Sections 215 and 216 for resisting or obstructing an official and committing physical assault against the officials.

@gun_sangtong

5. The public assembly led by the United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration on 24 March 2021 at the Ratchaprasong intersection in Bangkok to reiterate their three demands including the release of political prisoners, a rewrite of the Constitution and monarchical reform as well as the House dissolution. At least ten individuals who spoke there including one minor were charged for violating the Emergency Decree.

@Thikamporn Tamtiang

6. The public assembly led by Talufah Village and Talufah VillageV2 on 28 March 2021 at the Government House to push forward their three demands including the release of political prisoners, a rewrite of the Constitution and the repeal of Section 112. The demonstrators had been staying put at the Chamai Maruchate Bridge by the Government House since 13 March 2021, and this has led to two successive crackdowns on public assemblies. The first one in the morning around 6.00 saw 67 persons arrested including six minors and two monks, and the second one in the afternoon around 18.30 with 32 individuals arrested. Altogether 99, they were taken to the Border Patrol Police Region 1 and the Narcotics Suppression Bureau.

@Chana La

# From the Talufah Walk, Talufah Walk V2 to Talufah Village and two crackdowns on public assembly by the state

The Talufah Walk was organized by Khana Ratsadorn led by Jatupat ‘Pai’ and the People GO Network as well as their allied organizations. They have started their walk from Nakhon Ratchasima to the Democracy Monument Bangkok between16 February-7 March 2021 for 17 days and the distance of 247.5 kilometers. The number signifies the year in which Thailand has been transformed from an absolute monarchy to the constitutional monarchy. The demands of the march include;

1. Release all activists detained pretrial including in the 19 September Reclaiming People’s Power case.

2. Rewrite the Constitution since more than one hundred thousand people have signed a petition to demand an amendment made to the Constitution 2017, but it was voted down in the Parliament. Meanwhile, the Parliament has asked the Constitutional Court to rule if it has the power to amend the Constitution as proposed by the coalition MPs and the Pheu Thai MPs to pave the way for the election of members of the Constitutional Drafting Council or not. On11 March 2021, the Constitution Court rules that the Parliament has the power to prepare a rewrite of the Constitution, provided that it must be preceded by a national referendum. And after the Draft Constitution is completed, it has to go to another national referendum.

3. Repeal the Penal Code’s Section 112, a lese majeste offence since the Free Youth demonstration in 2020, at least 63 individuals have been charged for an offence against Section 112. The interpretation of the law has been widened to cover even wearing mocking clothes, setting arson on portrait of His Majesty the King and wearing a T-shirt bearing the word “we no longer have faith in the institution”. Meanwhile, at least 20 are being detained pretrial.

Apart from meeting the three demands, Gen Prayut Chan-ocha has to resign as Prime Minister as well.

@ฟาง

# Harassment and restriction of expression by the state

Throughout the Talufah Walk, there was not so much disruption. Wherever the marchers made their stop, local police would approach them and helped to facilitate the flow of traffic. Meanwhile, Special Branch police came along to conduct their surveillance.

Nevertheless, on 25 February 2021, it was reported that Special Branch police have visited the house of one of the marchers in Surin, a few hours after the person had returned home. The police claimed their superior officers asked them to take care of the family.

The march only encountered some hassle as it approached the area under jurisdiction of the Klong Luang Police Station, Pathumthani on 5 March 2021. As they have left the Thammasat University and headed toward Future Park Rangsit, some members of the group have gone to hang banners on the flyover. For two time, they were prevented from doing so by the police who invoked the Act on Maintenance of the Cleanliness. But given the persistence of the activists to exercise their freedom of expression, the police have conceded to their demand, although they asked the activists to remove it after the march passed the area. With the failure of negotiation, the protesters went ahead to hang such banner on at least 13 flyovers under which they would march.

@ฟาง

As the marchers approached a lawn opposite to Future Park and stopped there to conduct their activities, the police refused to let them do that citing the Covid-19 restriction. Eventually, the people managed to negotiate and promised to act in compliance with the restriction measures. They have set out the time for their activities and informed local vendors who could not sell their stuff if the activities were still going on. It was the first day the vendors were allowed to resume their business after the surge of the disease.

On 6 March 2021 around 9.00, the marchers have left Zeer Rangsit by foot while the crowd control police formed rows to cap the head and the tail of the procession to prevent them from veering into Vibhavadi Rangsit Rd and to keep them on Phahonyothin claiming the impact on traffic. The marchers, however, did not conceded to the demand and noted that the police were trying to keep them en route to walk past the 11th Infantry Regiment, a sensitive area and this might subject to them a crackdown. In their ultimatum to the police, they said they would rather sit on the road and waited for more people to join them.

@ฟาง

The police tried to ask for permission to search for weapon, but the team did not give in. They were allowed to walk until arriving at the Kasetsat Intersection.

As the procession has arrived its destiny at the Democracy Monument, the team was about to set up a stage on part of the traffic area around the roundabout. It was initially objected to by the police who threatened that if they persisted, they would face a crackdown. Meanwhile, the Superintendent of the Samranrat Police Station announced that the acts of the participants were unlawful and given the ban on public gathering under the Emergency Decree, the public assembly should end.

After the police’s announcement, the team insisted on proceeding with their activities and reiterated their adherence to nonviolence. They were let to proceed.

Later the protest leaders of Talufah Walk and the Khana Ratsadorn including Jatupat ‘Pai’ Boonpattararaksa, Panupong “Mike” Chadnok and Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul were detained pretrial after their indictment on the 19 September 2020 public and the court denied them bail. The Talufah Walk V2 led by UNME of Anarchy, however, proceeded with their activities in the spirit of the Talufah Walk and announced the plan to hold a public gathering on 13 March 2021 at the Democracy Monument from which they would then walk to the Government House and set up their Talufah Village together with the Bang Kloy Village.

@Thikamporn Tamtiang

@Chana La

During the walk, the three demands and one condition that Gen Prayut Chan-ocha has to resign as Prime Minister were reiterated. They set up their camp on the Rama V Rd. at the foot of Chamai Maruchate Bridge with screening checkpoints, temperature check, registration and the signing of names with a stamp of Talufah Village for anyone who wanted to come in and out of the village. They also set out some ground rules at Talufah Village printed on a banner including;

1. Talufah Village will adhere to nonviolence, will not clash, and incite.

2. Everyone, every group shall be unarmed.

3. The speakers have to touch on the principles giving out facts and information and refraining from dehumanization.

4. No alcohol consumption in the Village.

5. No photo taking of village members and their personal space.

A variety of activities have been conducted in the village including panel discussions on issues giving perspectives of academics and activists on the right to bail, tuition to get youth prepared for the examination, music performance, film screening, weekend market and walking street, etc.

On 25 March 2021m there were reports that the Bureau of Sanitation, the Dusit District Office and the Department of Law Enforcement and the Environment, Bangkok Metropolitan Administration and the Metropolitan Police Bureau under the Royal Thai Police were going to sent officials to make an announcement of the BMA at 15.00 on the temporary closure of venue no. 20 dated on 23 February 2021 due to cleanliness and situation and Covid-19 restriction. The authority, however, did not order the reclamation of the area as reported.

On 28 March 2021, the Talufah Village was dispersed by the crowd control police early morning at 6.00. The officials were fully deployed covering the entrance of the village and an announcement was made that the Emergency Decree was still imposed, and it was incumbent on the authority to return the traffic space. The protesters were given three minutes to pack up. As three minutes were yet up, the officials started to arrest members of the Talufah Village while other officials got to clear up any obstacles to the entrance of the village.

@Chana La

The crackdown has led to the arrests of youth, monks and members of the public, 67 of them. They were taken to the Border Patrol Police Region 1 and were pressed with charges for violating the Emergency Decree, the Communicable Disease Act, the Land Traffic Act, the Act on Maintenance of the Cleanliness and the Controlling Public Advertisement by Sound Amplifier Act. After retaking the area, the officials from the Office of Police Forensic Science have reigned in to search and seize equipment with no presence of members of the village and lawyers.

After the early morning crackdown, around 15.00, a group of activists have set up another Talufah Village right in the middle of the Chamai Maruchate Bridge with representatives from various groups taking turn to read their statements to condemn the recent crackdown and demand the release of those detained.

@FAOZEE

Around 17.00, the crowd control police have been deployed cordoning off the activists. At 18.00, an announcement was made to call the participants to disband within 15 minutes invoking the Emergency Decree. Meanwhile, the reporters were told to pull out.

@FAOZEE

The Talufah Village members continued to take their stand. They started to lie down while flashing three fingers toward the officials. The crowd control police started to charge in to cordon off the activists while pushing the reporters outside the circle. Then, the arrests slowly took place while the protesters continued to lie down and flash their fingers. They were carried away and brought into a prisoner transport vehicle. 32 protesters were arrested.

@Chana La

All of them were taken to the Narcotics Suppression Bureau inside the Police Club on Vibhavadi Rangsit Rd, Laksi followed by their lawyers. Initially, the police denied entry of the lawyers, MPs or even their relatives.

Throughout the public assemblies, from the Talufah Walk to Talufah Village, the protest leaders and their alliances adhere to a peaceful assembly and their clear demands as indicated from their announcement of the demands and approaching various groups in local areas along the route from Nakhon Ratchasima to Bangkok until the Village was set up on 13 March 2021 where a variety of activities were held to raise the awareness and push forward their demands. They have been observing steadfastly the peaceful assembly showing no intention to clash or to incite the officials. Screening and registration desks were set up to welcome any participant. It was ostensibly clear that the authorities made attempts to stifle the exercise of the right to freedom of expression, particularly by invoking Covid-19 restriction provisions. They accused the protesters of breaking the Act on Maintenance of the Cleanliness by hanging a banner on flyovers or claimed they have made an offence against the Emergency Decree. It has eventually led to two successive crackdowns on public assembly and the largest arrest made in 2021 even though the public assemblies by Talufah Walk and Talufah Village have shown no propensity for violence or might warrant any effort to use force to disband the gathering. Still, the authorities invoke the Covid-19 pandemic to justify their restriction of the right to freedom of political expression.

In addition, the officials have failed to adhere to the international guidelines on crowd policing by charging in and arresting the participants without warrants and holding them in custody in an unofficial detention facility including the Border Patrol Police Region 1 in Pathumthani and the Narcotics Suppression Bureau. By bringing the protesters there, the police invoked the memo of the Deputy Metropolitan Police Bureau Commissioner to ask for the use of the building of the Narcotics Suppression Bureau as a detention facility and interviewing the suspects. The police claimed it would help to ensure the charging process to run effectively and safely as well as to ensure security given the large number of suspects. This poses risk to the safety of the arrestees and deprives their right to lawyer and other rights. According to reports, a male minor arrested in the morning states that the officials tried to tie up his wrists using wire and attempted to seize the phone from him during the interrogation.

# Two REDEM demonstrations and two mass arrests and one crackdown on public assembly

@Thikamporn Tamtiang

The public assembly organized by Redem appeared as leaderless on 6 March 2021. They marched from Lat Phrao intersection to the Criminal Court to dispose of garbage at the court, as a symbolic expression toward the judiciary due to the indictment of their protest leaders from the demonstration during 19-20 September 2020 and the denial of the right to temporary release for political prisoners pending the trial.

Prior to the state of the public assembly, the Criminal Court installed barbed wire along the fence, inside and outside, and a blue net to cover the building of Court. Water cannon trucks, sound system truck of the police and the crowd control unit were deployed inside. Outside the Phahonyothin Police Station, it was wrapped up with a blue net. At 15.35, the officials were spotted filling water into the water cannon truck wearing a mask while fillng up the tank.

@Thikamporn Tamtiang

As the participants started to arrive at the Lat Phrao intersection, at the Major Cineplex Ratchayothin’s parking lot, armed officials have charged in to hold in custody about 30 members of Wevo. The Commando unit asked all the guards to lie face down on the floor and pointed their shotguns at their backs. The officials searched and seized their personal belongings and tied their hands with cables before bringing them into a vehicle. As other people and their colleagues learned about the arrest, they went up there to have a look and were also arrested as well.

The arrestees were separated into three groups and fit into three vehicles which then drove out of Major Cineplex Ratchayothin while people tried to stop them at the intersection in front of the Major Cineplex Ratchayothin. One vehicle got struck there as a result, and all those detained have come out of the car. They decided to stay put fearing they would be charged for escaping from the custody of the officials. They then decided to walk to the Phahonyothin Police Staiton which has jurisdiction over the area. They were later joined by the arrestees from another vehicle, altogether 30 of them to show that they did not attempt to run away. Meanwhile, 18 others including Piyarat “Toto” Chongthep were taken away.

@Thikamporn Tamtiang

Meanwhile, the masses have slowly arrived at the Criminal Court around 18.40 and the police announced through an amplifier asking for cooperation from them to stay put and saying although they respect the exercise of the right to freedom of expression, freedom of opinion and freedom of unarmed and peaceful assembly as prescribed in the Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand 2017, but the exercise of such rights and freedoms have to fall within the provisions for the maintenance of national security and safety. Since the Emergency Decree is now in place, it is therefore impossible to hold a public gathering now. They also asked for cooperation to observe disease prevention restriction. The officials also made an announcement of the Criminal Court’s regulations that prohibit an unruly act, damage of property and fence climbing. They asked the protesters to stay there peacefully and not cause any disturbance and strictly not trespass into the property of the Criminal Court. They announced that they were there just to control the situation and would do nothing else. Later at 20.52, the participants announced the end of the peaceful public assembly.

Nevertheless, even though the public assembly was brought to a peaceful end, but in adjacent areas, at least 48 protesters were arrested inside the compound of Major Cineplex Ratchayothin, the largest political arrest insofar since the Free Youth public assembly the middle of 2020.

30 arrestees have turned themselves in with the police at the Phahonyothin Police Station, while other 18 had been taken to the Border Patrol Police Region 1. They were later pressed with charges including being members of secret society or criminal association and an offence against the Emergency Decree. The officials claim the Wevo guards were getting prepared to cause disturbance. It was the first time the authorities have invoked the Penal Code’s Section 209 for being members of secret society and the Penal Code’s Section 210 for criminal association along with the offence against the Emergency Decree.

All the arrestees asserted that they were arrested by the police with no warrants and were not informed of the charges against them. They were also not informed as to where they were taken to, were not informed of their legal rights. The police also used force and weapons to threaten and put them under arrest as well as to seize their personal belongings.

The public assembly on 20 March 2021 at Sanam Luang

At 17.00., Redem and other groups including the Free Art organized an activity to have people write their letters to be sent to His Majesty to demand the King stays under the Constitution.

Since the night of 19 March 2021, the authorities placed ship containers inside and around Sanam Luang, installing barbed wire and green shading net to heighten the wall of the ship containers citing the need in response to the public assembly and to protect important places including the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew.

Later on 20 March 2021 at 11.00, Deputy Metropolitan Police Bureau commissioner Pol General Piya Tawichai and Pol. Col. Kritsana Pattanacharoen, deputy police spokesman had a press conference at the Metropolitan Police Bureau speaking about security measures at Sanam Luang and adjacent area that it was necessary for the police to put in place obstacles around Sanam Luang prior to the public assembly to prevent participants from trespassing into public property including the Grand Palace and temples.

@Muzz

@Chana La

As the public assembly started to form, various activities were conducted including kite playing, skateboarding, without speeches made. Around 18.30, some protesters made an attempt to move the ship containers placed by the officials. The police behind the container line told them to stop and warn them they would be met with legal action.

@Chana La

@gun_sangtong

As the situation escalated, some protesters continued to experiment with methods to remove the ship containers. Around 18.55, the police further announced that should they persist with the effort, the police had to proceed with their planned response including firing water cannon laced with tear gas. One minute later, the fired water cannon one time, while the participants closer to the three-headed elephant monument held and shook a piece of fabric to create a wave while shouting free our friends. Around 19.29, the police announced the crowd control unit would make 30 steps forward making them get closer to the Royal Hotel getting ready to make the arrest. Meanwhile, some firecracker-like noise was heard one or two times as smoke spread around the front of the hotel. The police then announced its charging in to arrest the participants and preparing the use of special equipment, reportedly including the use of rubber bullets.

สถานการณ์เริ่มตึงเครียดมากขึ้น เมื่อผู้มวลชนบางส่วนยังคงพยายามนำคอนเทนเนอร์ลง จนเวลาประมาณ 18.55 น. ตำรวจประกาศว่าหากยังกระทำต่อจะดำเนินการตามขั้นตอน คือ ฉีดน้ำและ ฉีดน้ำผสมแก๊สน้ำตา แต่อีก 1 นาที ถัดมา ตำรวจฉีดน้ำหนึ่งครั้ง ขณะเดียวกัน ผู้ชุมนุมทางด้านใกล้ช้างสามเศียร มีการนำผ้าขาวมากางทำเวฟ และตะโกนบอกว่าให้ปล่อยเพื่อนเรา จนเวลาประมาณ 19.29 น. ทางด้านตำรวจมีการประกาศให้ชุดควบคุมฝูงชนเดินหน้า 30 ก้าว จนถึงบริเวณใกล้เคียงโรงแรมรัตนโกสินทร์ และเตรียมพร้อมเข้าจับกุม ระหว่างนี้ยังงมีเสียงดังคล้ายประทัดอยู่ 1-2 ครั้ง และมีกลุ่มควันที่หน้าโรงแรม ต่อเนื่องกันมีการประกาศจากตำรวจว่าให้เข้าจับกุมผู้ชุมนุมและเตรียมพร้อมอุปกรณ์พิเศษ และมีรายงานว่ามีการใช้กระสุนยางสถานการณ์เริ่มตึงเครียดมากขึ้น เมื่อผู้มวลชนบางส่วนยังคงพยายามนำคอนเทนเนอร์ลง จนเวลาประมาณ 18.55 น. ตำรวจประกาศว่าหากยังกระทำต่อจะดำเนินการตามขั้นตอน คือ ฉีดน้ำและ ฉีดน้ำผสมแก๊สน้ำตา แต่อีก 1 นาที ถัดมา ตำรวจฉีดน้ำหนึ่งครั้ง ขณะเดียวกัน ผู้ชุมนุมทางด้านใกล้ช้างสามเศียร มีการนำผ้าขาวมากางทำเวฟ และตะโกนบอกว่าให้ปล่อยเพื่อนเรา จนเวลาประมาณ 19.29 น. ทางด้านตำรวจมีการประกาศให้ชุดควบคุมฝูงชนเดินหน้า 30 ก้าว จนถึงบริเวณใกล้เคียงโรงแรมรัตนโกสินทร์ และเตรียมพร้อมเข้าจับกุม ระหว่างนี้ยังงมีเสียงดังคล้ายประทัดอยู่ 1-2 ครั้ง และมีกลุ่มควันที่หน้าโรงแรม ต่อเนื่องกันมีการประกาศจากตำรวจว่าให้เข้าจับกุมผู้ชุมนุมและเตรียมพร้อมอุปกรณ์พิเศษ และมีรายงานว่ามีการใช้กระสุนยางสถานการณ์เริ่มตึงเครียดมากขึ้น เมื่อผู้มวลชนบางส่วนยังคงพยายามนำคอนเทนเนอร์ลง จนเวลาประมาณ 18.55 น. ตำรวจประกาศว่าหากยังกระทำต่อจะดำเนินการตามขั้นตอน คือ ฉีดน้ำและ ฉีดน้ำผสมแก๊สน้ำตา แต่อีก 1 นาที ถัดมา ตำรวจฉีดน้ำหนึ่งครั้ง ขณะเดียวกัน ผู้ชุมนุมทางด้านใกล้ช้างสามเศียร มีการนำผ้าขาวมากางทำเวฟ และตะโกนบอกว่าให้ปล่อยเพื่อนเรา จนเวลาประมาณ 19.29 น. ทางด้านตำรวจมีการประกาศให้ชุดควบคุมฝูงชนเดินหน้า 30 ก้าว จนถึงบริเวณใกล้เคียงโรงแรมรัตนโกสินทร์ และเตรียมพร้อมเข้าจับกุม ระหว่างนี้ยังงมีเสียงดังคล้ายประทัดอยู่ 1-2 ครั้ง และมีกลุ่มควันที่หน้าโรงแรม ต่อเนื่องกันมีการประกาศจากตำรวจว่าให้เข้าจับกุมผู้ชุมนุมและเตรียมพร้อมอุปกรณ์พิเศษ และมีรายงานว่ามีการใช้กระสุนยางสถานการณ์เริ่มตึงเครียดมากขึ้น เมื่อผู้มวลชนบางส่วนยังคงพยายามนำคอนเทนเนอร์ลง จนเวลาประมาณ 18.55 น. ตำรวจประกาศว่าหากยังกระทำต่อจะดำเนินการตามขั้นตอน คือ ฉีดน้ำและ ฉีดน้ำผสมแก๊สน้ำตา แต่อีก 1 นาที ถัดมา ตำรวจฉีดน้ำหนึ่งครั้ง ขณะเดียวกัน ผู้ชุมนุมทางด้านใกล้ช้างสามเศียร มีการนำผ้าขาวมากางทำเวฟ และตะโกนบอกว่าให้ปล่อยเพื่อนเรา จนเวลาประมาณ 19.29 น. ทางด้านตำรวจมีการประกาศให้ชุดควบคุมฝูงชนเดินหน้า 30 ก้าว จนถึงบริเวณใกล้เคียงโรงแรมรัตนโกสินทร์ และเตรียมพร้อมเข้าจับกุม ระหว่างนี้ยังงมีเสียงดังคล้ายประทัดอยู่ 1-2 ครั้ง และมีกลุ่มควันที่หน้าโรงแรม ต่อเนื่องกันมีการประกาศจากตำรวจว่าให้เข้าจับกุมผู้ชุมนุมและเตรียมพร้อมอุปกรณ์พิเศษ และมีรายงานว่ามีการใช้กระสุนยางสถานการณ์เริ่มตึงเครียดมากขึ้น เมื่อผู้มวลชนบางส่วนยังคงพยายามนำคอนเทนเนอร์ลง จนเวลาประมาณ 18.55 น. ตำรวจประกาศว่าหากยังกระทำต่อจะดำเนินการตามขั้นตอน คือ ฉีดน้ำและ ฉีดน้ำผสมแก๊สน้ำตา แต่อีก 1 นาที ถัดมา ตำรวจฉีดน้ำหนึ่งครั้ง ขณะเดียวกัน ผู้ชุมนุมทางด้านใกล้ช้างสามเศียร มีการนำผ้าขาวมากางทำเวฟ และตะโกนบอกว่าให้ปล่อยเพื่อนเรา จนเวลาประมาณ 19.29 น. ทางด้านตำรวจมีการประกาศให้ชุดควบคุมฝูงชนเดินหน้า 30 ก้าว จนถึงบริเวณใกล้เคียงโรงแรมรัตนโกสินทร์ และเตรียมพร้อมเข้าจับกุม ระหว่างนี้ยังงมีเสียงดังคล้ายประทัดอยู่ 1-2 ครั้ง และมีกลุ่มควันที่หน้าโรงแรม ต่อเนื่องกันมีการประกาศจากตำรวจว่าให้เข้าจับกุมผู้ชุมนุมและเตรียมพร้อมอุปกรณ์พิเศษ และมีรายงานว่ามีการใช้กระสุนยางสถานการณ์เริ่มตึงเครียดมากขึ้น เมื่อผู้มวลชนบางส่วนยังคงพยายามนำคอนเทนเนอร์ลง จนเวลาประมาณ 18.55 น. ตำรวจประกาศว่าหากยังกระทำต่อจะดำเนินการตามขั้นตอน คือ ฉีดน้ำและ ฉีดน้ำผสมแก๊สน้ำตา แต่อีก 1 นาที ถัดมา ตำรวจฉีดน้ำหนึ่งครั้ง ขณะเดียวกัน ผู้ชุมนุมทางด้านใกล้ช้างสามเศียร มีการนำผ้าขาวมากางทำเวฟ และตะโกนบอกว่าให้ปล่อยเพื่อนเรา จนเวลาประมาณ 19.29 น. ทางด้านตำรวจมีการประกาศให้ชุดควบคุมฝูงชนเดินหน้า 30 ก้าว จนถึงบริเวณใกล้เคียงโรงแรมรัตนโกสินทร์ และเตรียมพร้อมเข้าจับกุม ระหว่างนี้ยังงมีเสียงดังคล้ายประทัดอยู่ 1-2 ครั้ง และมีกลุ่มควันที่หน้าโรงแรม ต่อเนื่องกันมีการประกาศจากตำรวจว่าให้เข้าจับกุมผู้ชุมนุมและเตรียมพร้อมอุปกรณ์พิเศษ และมีรายงานว่ามีการใช้กระสุนยางสถานการณ์เริ่มตึงเครียดมากขึ้น เมื่อผู้มวลชนบางส่วนยังคงพยายามนำคอนเทนเนอร์ลง จนเวลาประมาณ 18.55 น. ตำรวจประกาศว่าหากยังกระทำต่อจะดำเนินการตามขั้นตอน คือ ฉีดน้ำและ ฉีดน้ำผสมแก๊สน้ำตา แต่อีก 1 นาที ถัดมา ตำรวจฉีดน้ำหนึ่งครั้ง ขณะเดียวกัน ผู้ชุมนุมทางด้านใกล้ช้างสามเศียร มีการนำผ้าขาวมากางทำเวฟ และตะโกนบอกว่าให้ปล่อยเพื่อนเรา จนเวลาประมาณ 19.29 น. ทางด้านตำรวจมีการประกาศให้ชุดควบคุมฝูงชนเดินหน้า 30 ก้าว จนถึงบริเวณใกล้เคียงโรงแรมรัตนโกสินทร์ และเตรียมพร้อมเข้าจับกุม ระหว่างนี้ยังงมีเสียงดังคล้ายประทัดอยู่ 1-2 ครั้ง และมีกลุ่มควันที่หน้าโรงแรม ต่อเนื่องกันมีการประกาศจากตำรวจว่าให้เข้าจับกุมผู้ชุมนุมและเตรียมพร้อมอุปกรณ์พิเศษ และมีรายงานว่ามีการใช้กระสุนยางสถานการณ์เริ่มตึงเครียดมากขึ้น เมื่อผู้มวลชนบางส่วนยังคงพยายามนำคอนเทนเนอร์ลง จนเวลาประมาณ 18.55 น. ตำรวจประกาศว่าหากยังกระทำต่อจะดำเนินการตามขั้นตอน คือ ฉีดน้ำและ ฉีดน้ำผสมแก๊สน้ำตา แต่อีก 1 นาที ถัดมา ตำรวจฉีดน้ำหนึ่งครั้ง ขณะเดียวกัน ผู้ชุมนุมทางด้านใกล้ช้างสามเศียร มีการนำผ้าขาวมากางทำเวฟ และตะโกนบอกว่าให้ปล่อยเพื่อนเรา จนเวลาประมาณ 19.29 น. ทางด้านตำรวจมีการประกาศให้ชุดควบคุมฝูงชนเดินหน้า 30 ก้าว จนถึงบริเวณใกล้เคียงโรงแรมรัตนโกสินทร์ และเตรียมพร้อมเข้าจับกุม ระหว่างนี้ยังงมีเสียงดังคล้ายประทัดอยู่ 1-2 ครั้ง และมีกลุ่มควันที่หน้าโรงแรม ต่อเนื่องกันมีการประกาศจากตำรวจว่าให้เข้าจับกุมผู้ชุมนุมและเตรียมพร้อมอุปกรณ์พิเศษ และมีรายงานว่ามีการใช้กระสุนยางสถานการณ์เริ่มตึงเครียดมากขึ้น เมื่อผู้มวลชนบางส่วนยังคงพยายามนำคอนเทนเนอร์ลง จนเวลาประมาณ 18.55 น. ตำรวจประกาศว่าหากยังกระทำต่อจะดำเนินการตามขั้นตอน คือ ฉีดน้ำและ ฉีดน้ำผสมแก๊สน้ำตา แต่อีก 1 นาที ถัดมา ตำรวจฉีดน้ำหนึ่งครั้ง ขณะเดียวกัน ผู้ชุมนุมทางด้านใกล้ช้างสามเศียร มีการนำผ้าขาวมากางทำเวฟ และตะโกนบอกว่าให้ปล่อยเพื่อนเรา จนเวลาประมาณ 19.29 น. ทางด้านตำรวจมีการประกาศให้ชุดควบคุมฝูงชนเดินหน้า 30 ก้าว จนถึงบริเวณใกล้เคียงโรงแรมรัตนโกสินทร์ และเตรียมพร้อมเข้าจับกุม ระหว่างนี้ยังงมีเสียงดังคล้ายประทัดอยู่ 1-2 ครั้ง และมีกลุ่มควันที่หน้าโรงแรม ต่อเนื่องกันมีการประกาศจากตำรวจว่าให้เข้าจับกุมผู้ชุมนุมและเตรียมพร้อมอุปกรณ์พิเศษ และมีรายงานว่ามีการใช้กระสุนยาง

@gun_sangtong

In addition, the crowd control police have made the move to gain control in surrounding area including Kok Wua Intersection where some objects were set afire on the street. The police responded by firing tear gas continually. From 22.30 – 00.00, police vehicles were left stranded being pounded at the Chaloem Wan Chat Bridge. While the participants were holding their line on the Bridge, the crowd control police set up their rows at the Chaloem Wan Chat Bridge intersection opposite to them. Then, the police fired rubber bullets during the red light was on and when there was no passing traffic and paused when the green light was on. The protesters were hurling out objects and explosive-like noise was heard at least twice. They hid themselves behind some makeshift barricade while charging toward the rows of the officials at the foot of the bridge.

The crackdown on public assembly led by Redem on 20 March 2021 at Sanam Luang, according to Mob Data Thailand, most of the officials deployed were identified as part of the crowd control police at the ratio between the officials and the protesters 3,000 to 500-1,000. Instead of facilitating the participants, they blocked their passage and the demonstration venue using equipment not listed in the crowd policing manual including the installation of ship containers with barbed wire on the top and the installation of green shading net as the officials they were necessary to protect important places including the Grand Palace.

The authorities further announce to reiterate that public assembly was unlawful, and it justified the action to suppress the public assembly in line with the Public Assembly Act since it was still in the midst of the declaration of the State of Emergency according to the Emergency Decree to control communicable disease. In addition, the officials were found to have used various kinds of less lethal weapons in their law enforcement including rubber bullets to suppress the public assembly through methods not in line with the procedure. This has caused at least 19 injuries including three reporters while they were performing their duties and wearing clear signs to identify themselves as the press.

Later, the Royal Thai Police by Deputy Metropolitan Police Bureau commissioner Pol General Piya Tawichai held press conference and stated that such public assembly was not a peaceful public assembly, and it might cause damage to the property and places. It was therefore necessary to disperse the public assembly by the use of force and weapons as aforementioned. Nevertheless, according to the General Comment no. 37, in any public assembly where it is unclear or if it is not possible to single out the persons who use violence or instigate the participants to use violence which may lead to injuries or deaths of other persons, it is incumbent on the state to protect and adhere to the guidelines on the use of less-lethal weapons to strictly enforce the law against the participants and they shall refrain from and be held liable for any excessive use of force in order to put the protesters under arrest or to suppress the public assembly.

The first three months of 2021 saw a clearly escalating tactics adopted by the state including the use of violence to crack down on public assemblies and carry out the arrests against political dissents. At least 12 crackdowns were made on public assembly within merely three months and at least 25 prosecutions related to the public assemblies and at least 11 arrests without warrants when the assemblies were taking place. In addition, prosecutions for the violation of the Emergency Decree and the Communicable Disease Act are the mainstay to curb the right to freedom of expression, along with Penal Code’s Section 112. The prosecutions against members of the public and youth have surged (at least six minors facing charges for violating the Penal Code’s Section 112) while at least 20 individuals have been detained pretrial including 13 slapped with charges related to the Penal Code’s Section 112. Moreover, the arrests without warrants and restriction of the rights of alleged offenders have increased as well.