An overview of public assemblies and harassment following the gatherings January 2022
# Public assemblies and harassment following the public gatherings and expressions in January 2022
# Overall situation of the public assemblies
In January 2022, the Omicron infection has ushered in Thailand the fourth wave, despite its relatively lax precaution compared to 2021. However, on 25 January 2022, the Government Gazette published the notification to extend the State of Emergency in all vicinities of the Kingdom (16th time) until 31 March 2022 signed on 24 January 2022. As a result, Thailand has now been subject to an emergency decree for over two years. Meanwhile people who have exercised their right to freedom of assembly have been charged for violating the Emergency Decree on Public Administration in Emergency Situations B.E. 2005. According to the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), 2021 records, at least 1,244 individuals have been charged for violating the Emergency Decree in over 542 cases
# @Thikamporn Tamtiang On 14th January 2022, Thammasat Univerisity student, Benja Apan was granted the bail approved by The Criminal Court while some political detainees still imprisoned for 6 months during the pending trial. Therefore, some activities or demonstration have expressed the call for right to bail along with those who have been deprived of liberty arbitrarily as the right of presumption of innocence has been in a myth of Thailand.
Amidst the continuing Omicron scourge and its economic toll on the public, the pretrial detention of political prisoners continued unabated against 18 individuals including one 16-year-old child. Some of them have been detained for over six months for an offence against the Penal Code’s Section 112 including Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak and Jatupat ‘Pai’ Boonpattararaksa who have been incacerrated in jail since 9 August 2021, Anon Nampha since 11 August 2021 and Panupong “Mike” Chadnok since 23 September 2021.
Amidst the continuing Omicron scourge and its economic toll on the public, the pretrial detention of political prisoners continued unabated against 18 individuals including one 16-year-old child. Some of them have been detained for over six months for an offence against the Penal Code’s Section 112 including Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak and Jatupat ‘Pai’ Boonpattararaksa who have been incacerrated in jail since 9 August 2021, Anon Nampha since 11 August 2021 and Panupong “Mike” Chadnok since 23 September 2021.\Amidst the continuing Omicron scourge and its economic toll on the public, the pretrial detention of political prisoners continued unabated against 18 individuals including one 16-year-old child. Some of them have been detained for over six months for an offence against the Penal Code’s Section 112 including Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak and Jatupat ‘Pai’ Boonpattararaksa who have been incacerrated in jail since 9 August 2021, Anon Nampha since 11 August 2021 and Panupong “Mike” Chadnok since 23 September 2021.Amidst the continuing Omicron scourge and its economic toll on the public, the pretrial detention of political prisoners continued unabated against 18 individuals including one 16-year-old child. Some of them have been detained for over six months for an offence against the Penal Code’s Section 112 including Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak and Jatupat ‘Pai’ Boonpattararaksa who have been incacerrated in jail since 9 August 2021, Anon Nampha since 11 August 2021 and Panupong “Mike” Chadnok since 23 September 2021.Amidst the continuing Omicron scourge and its economic toll on the public, the pretrial detention of political prisoners continued unabated against 18 individuals including one 16-year-old child. Some of them have been detained for over six months for an offence against the Penal Code’s Section 112 including Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak and Jatupat ‘Pai’ Boonpattararaksa who have been incacerrated in jail since 9 August 2021, Anon Nampha since 11 August 2021 and Panupong “Mike” Chadnok since 23 September 2021.
# @Thikamporn Tamtiang On, 18th January 2022, Labour Network for People's Rights handed in the petition calling for economic and labour supports after the suffering during the pandemic situation. #ม็อบ18มกรา65 : ร้องแก้ปัญหาปากท้อง (opens new window)
At least 99 public assemblies and expressions have been staged throughout the countries to echo the economic woes and the impacts on the workers amidst the continuing Covid-19 pandemic and problems from the performance of duties of the government as well as the demand of the right to bail. These include the Standing Against Detention which has called for the right to bail of political prisoners as they stand every day in front of the Supreme Court, of the Bangkok Remand Prison, the Chiang Mai University and Tha Phae in Chiang Mai and the Ubonratchathani University, at least 67 times.
# These three pictures are on 1st February 2022, the group members, along with activists from the Save Bang Kloi Coalition, marched from the Nang Loeng intersection to the nearby Chamai Maruchet bridge to submit their demands directly to Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha while they were blocked by the crowd control police, wire blockade, and shipping containers.
# After protest settlement at the Government House of People's Movement for Just Society for 15 days, the government agreed to have an independent committee to solve the community and land rights issues.
# more information : summary of People's Network for a Just Society (P-Move) public gatherings (in TH) (opens new window)
At least 20 assemblies have been held to demand the government address economic woes, labour rights and indigenous rights including the assembly of the People's Movement for Just Society (P-Move) in front of the Government House since 20 January 2022 to call on the government to accept their 15 recommendations to address issues concerning state welfare, land and natural resource management; the Save Bangkloi and Bangkloi Returning Home Alliance which also collaborated with P-Move as well to assert their four demands to address the problems of the Bangkloi villagers, one of their demands is the establishment of a new independent inquiry committee to conduct fact-finding and address the problems of the Bangkloi ethnic Karen community; the Debt Network of Peasants of Thailand which has demonstrated at the Ministry of Finance to call on the government to ease up and address debt problems among members of the group; the Thai Taxi Labour Federation and the Southern Raider Union which have also advocated labour issues.
# On 30 January 2022, The Kong, Chee, Moon Ratsadon Network compiled of various activist groups including the KKC Students, Udon Enough Is Enough, Dao Din, and Free Ubon from Northeastern part of Thailand was official claim as the solidarity group to advocate for regional reform and decentralization to the local area.
On the issues concerning education and other regional issues, there have been at least 11 assemblies including the Thai Education Reform and the Bad Students and its alliance which have submitted a letter to the Minister of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation Mr. Anek Laothamatas demanding an inquiry into the Conference of University Presidents of Thailand in charge of admission tests to higher education institutions and their demand for appropriate Covid-19 restriction during the Thai University Central Admission System’s examinations.5 In the Northeast, there have been assemblies organized by various activist groups including the KKC Students, Udon Enough Is Enough, Dao Din, and Free Ubon which have gathered to organize activities under the umbrella of “The Network of Kong, Chee, Moon Ratsadon Network” to advocate for regional reform and decentralization to the local area. Their three major demands since 2021 including the removal from of office of Prayut, a rewrite of the Constitution and monarchy reform remain their key demands although they have become less prominent.
# On 14 January 2022, two activists staged a symbolic action by holding a banner that read “The Feudalist Diplomas” in a place close to where a graduation ceremony was taking place. the two activists were later taken into custody and fined on two offences for 1,500 baht.
In addition, a campaign has been launched to boycott graduation ceremonies. It was predicated on the previous and controversial boycott of graduation ceremonies at Thammasat University in 2020 in tandem with the fervent call for the monarchy reform during the time. Ahead of the graduation ceremonies at Chiang Mai University on 14 January 2022, on 12 January 2022, the CMU Student Club facebook Fanpage posted a message reiterating its stand to support the freedom to refuse to participate in graduation ceremonies and a straw poll was conducted. Later on 14 January 2022, two activists staged a symbolic action by holding a banner that read “The Feudalist Diplomas” in a place close to where a graduation ceremony was taking place. They were stopped by the police claiming the area was off-limit. A scuffle ensued and the two activists were later taken into custody and fined on two offences for 1,500 baht. Building on the boycott of graduation ceremonies, the activists at Thammasat University’s Rangsit Campus have also organized a similar straw poll. Meanwhile, student activists of Kong Kang faced a harassment and surveillance during the graduate ceremony from 19-20 January 2022.
Despite a meager increase of public assemblies and a decline of prosecution against participants in political assemblies, prosecutions against them continued unabated in every form and on every issue including restriction imposed on the space of public assembly. According to TLHR, from 18 July 2020 until 31 January 2022, at least 1,767 individuals have been charged due to political assemblies in 1,009 cases including against 273 youth under 18 years of age7 including;
Violation of the Emergency Decree against 1,428 individuals in 617 cases
Violation of the Penal Code’s Section 112 against 169 individuals in 176 cases
Violation of the Computer Crime Act 2007 against 117 individuals in cases
Violation of the Penal Code’s Section 116 against 116 individuals in 37 cases
Violation of the Public Assembly Act 2015 against 107 individuals in 75 cases
Violation of the Civil Procedure Code’s Section 30-33 against 31 individuals in 17 cases
In January 2022, 16 more individuals have been charged in 24 cases. In addition, the authorities have committed acts of harassment in various forms including by visiting the activists at their homes, and other harassment against media which often took place in several provinces where public assemblies took place.
# The harassment situation
Despite the stall of public assemblies, harassment against political activists continued unabated, particularly prior to a visit to the province of an important figure or a royal family member. This would put local activists under surveillance of the local authorities. In January, such acts of harassment against the public happened at least 18 times including;
# Harassment against activists and their families
At least nine activists have been harassed by visits made to their homes by the authorities or being subject to surveillance prior to the visit by prominent figures even though no plans have even been hatched to organize any assembly.
For example, the case of Chatchai, attorney cum activist of the Free Ubon who was visited by two police officials from Det Udom Police Station. They claimed they were there just to take photo as ordered by their superior officials. Chatchai has previously been followed, particularly when there is going to be a visit by prominent figures to Ubonratchathani. Jatuphon “New”posted an account when 7-8 plainclothes police officials visited and harassed her at her boyfriend’s house. They came to take photo of the house and her mother asking for her phone number and even telling her boyfriend to stay away from her since she was charged for a royal defamation case. Chonlathit Chotsawat, student of Thammasat University, reveals how 3-4 plainclothes police officials came to his home citing the order from “above” in order to check in if he belonged to a violent group or not. They even claimed they would visit him again. And the case of Kant, a youth activist who was asked to meet with the police at the Nong Ki Police Station in Burirum to confirm to them that he would not organize any activity during the visit of Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. Before that, he had been followed for a couple of days.
The activity that yields the most harassment to activists is the graduate ceremony. At least 13 activists have been harassed for the reason. For example, Wanat, an attorney and former candidate for municipality election of the Progressive Movement and former coordinator of the Future Forward Party. He was visited by police from the Muang Mukdahan Police Station at home in the past couple of days, probably due to the impending visit of Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn who would preside over the graduate ceremony at Kalasin University. Kong Kang Group a group of student activists of Burapha University, reports how police officials have followed them to their homes or called them to ask about their activity including at least nine members of the group in just one week prior to the graduate ceremony. And the case of Yotsunthon and Pimchanok, the activists who were arrested for holding a banner at the graduate ceremony of Chiang Mai University. The police charged in and used force to take away the banner and their phones causing some injury to Pimchanok before both were fined for 1,500 baht for making loud noise.
A campaign to sign on a petition to propose a legislation has also come under a constant watch from the authorities. Just before the day the Nakhon Phanom Si Bo Thon organized a campaign to send New Year greetings to the public in front of the Indochina Market and to urge people to sign on a petition to propose a legislation to repeal Section 112, Tonnam and at least two other group’s members spotted a pickup truck with Mukdahan license plate pulled over at the mouth of the soi where no-parking sign is located. Beaming the headlights into Wariya’s house, the car had three cropped hair passengers wearing a T-shirt like a police detective. It took a while before the car moved away. The Nakhon Sawan Technical College Students also reveals how they were harassed and followed twice by the officials who tried to ask them about the petition campaign, the reasons to repeal Section 112 and asking for a copy of the petition letter and taking photo of them all the time. Similarly, the Kong, Chee, Moon Ratsadon Network faced questions from the officials who followed them and took photo of participants during the launch of the network in the Northeast. Phonphat Panthong and Pimchanok Jaihong were nabbed by the police in Yaowarat while walking around and holding a sign to demand a ‘repeal of 112’. The sign was forcibly taken from them until it was torn up. Then, 6-7 more police officials, plainclothes and uniformed, came with a prisoner transport vehicle to take the two of them to the Phlapphla Police Station. They were pressed with charges concerning failure to keep their ID cards with them and were fined 100 baht each. They were also subject to a thorough interview of their personal history for nearly three hours before being released.
Apart from the harassment in various forms, there have been reports this month that the police have gone to The ordinary bar to ask them to remove a post with picture and message in their facebook fanpage citing how upset their superior officials were. The post was concerned with an advertisement of a special promotion to mark the Children’s Day and any clients who expressed themselves politically were offered a discount. The 1932 people space library was visited by five police officials who said they were there to write a report for their superior officials. But they also took a children’s book set on “Hope”, “Socialism Flag” and a sticker against 112 with themselves claiming they “would be used as evidence”. Soon, they returned the books and claimed they had taken the books simply for their children’s read.
# Harassment against media
At least, three media workers came out to reveal how they have been subject to harassment by the police including Admin of Friends Talk, citizen media, who reveals how plainclothes officers who claimed to be an detective police of Thung Song Hong Police Station and has visited him at his home. They claimed he was involved with the Thalugaz without citing any documents. Sirote Klampaiboon also reveals how the police have visited him at his home, for the second month already. They claimed they would visit him every month and also showed a list of nearly 20 individuals on their watch list. The Same Sky editor and founder Thanapol Eawsakul had about 30 police officials raiding his office in Nonthaburi claiming the need to seize the book “The Monarchy and Thai Society” and to search his computers and mobile devices. The officials produced an arrest warrant and a warrant for access to computer data issued by the Nonthaburi Provincial Court.
Apart from reported harassments against media, there have been reports of the harassment against child members of the Thalugaz posted in the Red Birds, Freedom facebook fanpage. They rode a motorbike to stalk the children even though the children of Thalugaz have not organized any violent assemblies recently.
# The trend of harassment in February
Comparing the documentation in January and December, it was found that despite a decline in public assemblies and legal cases, but the harassment has been increasing in every form including harassment against activists or media. In February, it is expected that such harassment will increase. Perhaps, given the decline in the number of public assemblies, the police have mobilized their forces to harass the activists to prevent them from organizing any political activities.
# Updates on cases against children
In January 2022, there have been at least 99 public assemblies countrywide. Overall, the participants continued to be summoned to answer to the charges retrospectively. As a result, this month saw at lease one more child being charged compared to December (counting only the child who has never been charged before.)
# Initially denied bail/allowed to post bail later
This month, one child was denied bail including a 16-year-old-boy8 was denied bail after being held in custody since 25 September, for 130 days (as of 31 January 2022), in a pretrial detention.
# The violation of the rights of the child during and after the arrest
On 3 Jan 2022, the arrest warrant was executed to hold a 15-year-old-child in custody at his home. The individual was then taken to the Phayathai police station and their lawyers and family were denied access during the inquiry. The police claimed the need to prepare the arrest memo. The lawyers thus alerted the Juvenile Court to this unlawful act during the arrest and the court later allowed the child to post bail on own recognizance.
# Overall situation since prosecution against children started in 2020 until now
Since the prosecution against children and youth began in 2020 until January 2022, at least 273 children have been charged in 191 cases.
Charged for violating the Emergency Decree: 291 cases
14 have been charged for lese majeste, royal defamation: 24 cases including 8 cases reported by members of the public and 16 cases by public authorities
Charged for illegally assembling of ten persons and upward with the use of violence according to the Penal Code’s Section 215: 158 cases
Charged for failing to disperse when ordered so by competent official according to the Penal Code’s Section 216: 91 cases
Charged for physical assault according to the Penal Code’s Section 296 coupled with Section 289: 18 cases
Charged for mischief according to the Penal Code’s Section 358: 32 cases
Charged for obstructing public ways according to the Penal Code’s Section 385: 15 cases
Charged for violating the Communicable Diseases Act: 36 cases
At least ten children have been charged for setting fire on property according to the Penal Code’s Section 217.
At least 21 children have been charged for having in possession explosive devices.
At least two children have been charged for carrying with them knife into public places without good reasons.