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THA

PEACEFUL PROTESTORS MAY FACE 100+ YEARS IN PRISON

Peaceful protestors may face 100+ years in prison

Tattep
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Authorities in Thailand are prosecuting and detaining peaceful prosecutors, intensifying repression of a peaceful youth reform movement that has held mass, overwhelmingly peaceful protests and flash mobs since 2020 for political, constitutional and educational reform, LGBTQI equality and women’s and children’s rights. 

Leading pro-democracy activists/human rights defenders who have played a role in mass youth-led protests for reform in Thailand, are in detention, with their bail requests denied, in an apparent bid to prevent their involvement in continuing demonstrations. Members of the Ratsadon group may now face up to 165 years imprisonment, under legal provisions on insulting the monarchy (lèse majesté), and sedition. Authorities are targeting them and hundreds of peaceful protesters, including children, with criminal charges solely for peacefully exercising their human rights under laws that have been used to penalise the exercise of the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly. They continue to summon and seek warrants to detain protesters across Thailand for sedition, computer crimes, offences to the monarchy, and public assembly.

On 9 February 2021, authorities indicted leading members of “Ratsadon” (The People), a group involved in the organization of protests, with lèse majesté and/or sedition. These charges have characteristically been used by the authorities to penalise peaceful dissent and carry sentences of up to 15 or seven-years’ imprisonment, respectively. Human rights lawyer Anon Nampa, student Parit ‘Penguin’ Chiwarak, activist Somyot Prueksakasemsuk and another activist have been detained at Bangkok Remand Prison and the court has turned down five lawyers’ requests for bail. 

On 8 March 2021, authorities also indicted detained sociology student Panusaya ‘Rung’ Sithijirawattanakul, currently held at the Women’s Central Prison, activist Panuphong ‘Mike’ Jadnok and activist Jatupat ‘Pai’ Boonpattararaksa, both currently held at Bangkok Remand Prison, with lèse majesté and sedition. Some 22 members of Ratsadon group have been held. On 15 March 2021 authorities began their trial. Members of the group have reported concerns for their safety in detention, after receiving visits from authorities in the early hours of the morning in Bangkok Remand Prison, allegedly to test them for COVID-19. Former lèse majesté suspects have reported ill-treatment by other inmates in detention, including alleged beatings ordered by prison wardens. 

Three of those detained have previously served lengthy prison terms under the lèse majesté law solely for peacefully expressing their opinions. ‘Pai,’ when a law student was imprisoned for nearly two and a half years for forwarding a BBC news profile of King Rama X on Facebook in 2017. ‘Bank,’ then a fine arts student, was sentenced to two and a half years’ imprisonment for taking part in a play about a fictional monarch in 2013, and Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, served seven of an eleven years’ sentence for publishing a short story he did not author about a fictional monarch. All were held in lengthy pre-trial detention with bail denied.

According to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, at least 77 people in 68 cases, including six children under 18 years old have been charged with lèse majesté – or royal defamation – under Section 112 of the Criminal Code since authorities announced they would resume the use of the charges, in late 2020. They are facing up between 3 to 15 years in prison for a defamation charge, for their speeches or actions at previous demonstrations, where protesters advocated reforms to the monarchy. At least 400 people, including these 75 individuals, have been charged with other provisions often used to criminalise peaceful protests, including sedition and assembly with threat of violence (Sections 116 and 215 of the Criminal Code, respectively), and violation of the ban on public assembly under the Emergency Decree and the Public Assembly Act.
 

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PEACEFUL PROTESTORS FACE YEARS IN PRISON

Peaceful protestors face years in prison

Jatupat ‘Pai’ Boonpattararaksa
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Authorities in Thailand are instituting a new wave of repression against a peaceful youth reform movement that has held mass, overwhelmingly peaceful protests and flash mobs during 2020 for political, constitutional and educational reform, LGBTQI equality and women’s and children’s rights. After protesters publicly discussed calls for reform to the monarchy, authorities detained and charged dozens of peaceful protesters. The ongoing crackdown corresponds to an established pattern of official legal harassment of individuals exercising their rights. Thai authorities have characteristically filed multiple criminal proceedings against government critics and political protest movements, tying them up with long-running criminal proceedings with a chilling effect on the exercise of rights to peaceful assembly and expression. 

High school student Benjamaporn ‘Ploy’ Nivas (f), aged 16, a youth activist in the campaign group “Bad Students”; university sociology student and Student Union of Thailand leader Panusaya ‘Rung’ Sittijirawattanakul (f) aged 22, Tattep ‘Ford’ Ruangprapaikitseree, a 23 year old LGBTQI and pro-democracy activist, and Jatupat ‘Pai’ Boonpattararaksa, aged 29, a legal expert and former prisoner of conscience are at risk of between two years and decades of imprisonment for speaking at demonstrations, peacefully protesting or sharing information about protests on social media. They are among hundreds of school and university students and activists who authorities have detained during 2020, filed criminal proceedings against or intimidated.  

In late November 2020, police summoned or sought warrants to arrest protest leaders across Thailand for sedition, computer crimes, offences to the monarchy, and public assembly. Benjamaporn ‘Ploy’ Nivas and two fellow leaders of the ‘Bad Students’ campaign group were summoned for infringing a ban on public gatherings imposed under the 2005 Emergency Decree for speaking at a public rally on 15 October 2020. 

At least 32 protesters, including ‘Rung’, ‘Ford’, ‘Pai’, and other protest leaders, as well as two children under 18 years old, face proceedings for alleged lèse majesté under Article 112 of Thailand’s Penal Code for speeches or actions taken in recent demonstrations. Authorities indicate they are also further investigating, and censoring, individuals posting materials on social media that are related to the protests. In recent years, officials have repeatedly used this law to criminalise peaceful dissent and target political opponents. In December 2017, authorities detained and then imprisoned ‘Pai’, then a law student, for nearly two and a half years for forwarding a BBC profile of King Rama X on Facebook. 

On 18 July 2020, 31 individuals, including several university students, had participated in a peaceful demonstration at the Democracy Monument in Bangkok, Thailand’s capital, organized by a student-led movement called Free Youth. The gathering attended by an estimated 2,400 protestors listed three demands to the Thai government: parliament dissolution and fresh elections, a new constitution, and an end to harassment against individuals. 

Of these, in addition to ‘Pai, ‘Ford’ and ‘Rung’, authorities have also targeted at least eight others after this demonstration with summons or charges for sedition and lèse majesté related to specific demonstrations, among the 31 activists previously charged for their peaceful exercise of freedom of assembly (See previous UA).
 

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Thailand: Emergency decree banning gatherings 'yet another attempt to stamp out dissent'

Protesters have been calling for institutional reform for months now (Bangkok protest held in August, pictured) © Adryel Talamantes/NurPhoto

Thai authorities have ordered an indefinite ban on gatherings of five or more people in Bangkok, under emergency measures to stop escalating pro-democracy protests Order also bans publication of news or online messages that ‘could create fear’ ‘These sudden and drastic emergency measures are just the latest escalation in Thailand’s current onslaught on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly - Ming Yu Hah Responding to news that the Thai authorities have ordered a ban on gatherings of five or more people in Bangkok and on sharing information that “could create fear”, Amnesty International

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31 PEACEFUL PROTESTORS FACE IMPRISONMENT

31 peaceful protesters face imprisonment

	Amnesty International Thailand demonstration at Burmese (Myanmar) embassy in Bangkok
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On 18 July 2020, 31 individuals, including several university students, had taken part in a peaceful demonstration at the Democracy Monument in Bangkok, Thailand’s capital, organized by a student-led movement Free Youth. The gathering attended by an estimated 2,400 protestors listed three demands to the Thai government: parliament dissolution and fresh elections, a new constitution, and an end to harassment against individuals.

Each of the activists face up to seven years in prison if convicted. All of them face charges that include: sedition, assembly intended to do act of violence, refusing to comply with an order of an official, obstructing the public way and committing an act of violence not amounting to bodily or mental harm to the other person under Articles 116, 215, 368, 385, and 391 of the Penal Code, respectively; violation of the Emergency Decree; offence under the Communicable Diseases Act; obstructing the traffic under Article 114 of the Land Traffic Act; Article 19 of the Maintenance of the Cleanliness and Orderliness Act; and the use of an amplifier without authorities’ permission under Article 4 of the Controlling Public Advertisement by Sound Amplifier Act.

15 out of 31 individuals have an arrest warrant issued against them. To date, 13 activists out of 15 have been arrested and bailed out with 100,000 Thai baht (approx. USD 3,000) surety each, or with positions of professor or parliamentarian as a guarantee. Two individuals still face the risk of arrest. The 16 other protestors are facing the same allegations and are due to report themselves to the police at Samranrat station, Bangkok, on 28 August 2020.

One of those arrested on 7 August – lawyer Arnon Nampa – was arrested again by police from Chanasongkram station on 19 August for his role in a Harry Potter-themed rally in Bangkok on 3 August, at which Arnon gave a speech calling for a reform of the Thai monarchy. He was later granted bail with conditions not to carry out the same alleged acts. The police later arrested Panupong Chadnok (Mike) and Arnon again, on 24 and 25 August respectively, for joining a different protest at Thammasat University, Pathum Thani province, on 10 August. In this case, the pair face serious charges including sedition and importing to the computer system information deemed a threat to national security.

Since the imposition of stringent measures under the Emergency Decree on 26 March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, tens of thousands of people – including university and high school students – have taken to the streets to voice their demands regarding social and political matters. Apart from the three main demands listed at the 18 July protest, many of these demonstrators call for a reform to education, gender equality, sexual and reproductive rights, justice for enforced disappearance cases, among other issues. After the Emergency Decree came into effect, the authorities have increasingly detained and initiated criminal complaints against individuals who engaged in peaceful protests and activities. Demonstrators have reported being subject to intensifying harassment and intimidation by local officers in recent months solely for their involvement in peaceful demonstrations. 
 

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Thailand: Rappers and peaceful activists arrested for pro-democracy protests

© Getty Images

Authorities in Thailand must stop their crackdown on peaceful pro-democracy protesters, Amnesty International said today, after a fresh wave of arrests. Since the imposition of the Emergency Decree on 26 March, Thai officials have increasingly initiated criminal complaints against people who took part in peaceful protests and activities. Demonstrators have also reported being subject to intensifying harassment and intimidation by police officers in recent months, solely for their involvement in peaceful demonstrations. This morning, eight activists were arrested, including Dechathorn ‘Hockey’

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Cambodia/Thailand: Villagers' court victory a 'watershed moment' for corporate accountability in Southeast Asia

Responding to today’s decision by the Bangkok South Civil Court to grant Class Action Lawsuit status to more than 700 Cambodian families who are suing Thai sugar giant Mitr Phol after being forcibly evicted from their homes in 2008-09, Ming Yu Hah, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Campaigns, said: “Today’s ruling is a watershed moment for human rights and corporate accountability in Southeast Asia. “The decision rightly recognises that national borders must not provide corporations with a free pass to act with impunity, nor should they pose a barrier to anyone seeking

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Thailand: Authorities abusing laws to muzzle online critics of government and monarchy

Government using a series of repressive laws to crack down on critical voices New report reveals how dozens targeted for their online posts currently await trial and could face up to five years in prison ‘Repression is escalating, with authorities using the pandemic as a pretext to further quash criticism and unlawfully restrict human rights’ - Clare Algar Thailand’s authorities are abusing laws to prosecute social media users who criticise the government and monarchy in a systematic campaign to crush dissent, Amnesty International said today (23 April). In its new report, They are always

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Thailand: Dissolution of Future Forward Party must be reversed

Responding to the news that Thailand’s Constitutional Court has ruled to dissolve the Future Forward Party, Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s South East Asia Regional Director, said: “Today’s decision by the Constitutional Court to dissolve the Future Forward Party illustrates how the authorities use judicial processes to intimidate, harass and target political opposition. “Thai authorities must reverse the dissolution decision and restore genuine rights to freedom of expression and association in the country. “The dissolution of the Future Forward Party is the culmination of the Thai

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Urgent Action: Stop prosecuting peaceful protesters

Thai authorities renewed their crackdown on peaceful protesters by pursuing the prosecution of a group of 17 individuals.

3rd update on UA 136/15 issued 24/06/2019

Urgent Action: Defamation charges for exposing labour abuse

Human rights defenders, activists, journalists and former employees are facing criminal defamation lawsuits for comments.

UA 73/19 issued 24/05/2019
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