The ideas of “Thai Federation,” the origins of 6 serious lawsuits, 17 defendants, 4 people disappeared

 
 
The first picture that comes to mind with the words “Thai Federation,” about which there has been some news reporting, is a black T-shirt with a little white, red, and white strip up on left side of the chest as worn by Wanapa, the person who drove a bike for hire, who soldiers detained and took to Military Circle 11. The detention of Wanapa was just the starting point for a set of Thai Federation cases. Subsequently, there were people imprisoned, people whose houses were searched and visited, people who disappeared, and a refugee sent back from Malaysia. Let’s go back and look into the origins of the dream of Thailand being a Federal State, and the fate of the dreamers. 

 

What is the Thai Federation?
 
According to an investigation report by Thai state officials, the Thai Federation arose from a group that opposed the NCPO [National Council for Peace and Order, or the coup maker], who escaped the country and went to continue their movement in Laos. These were Chucheep Chewasut or “Uncle Sanam Luang,” Wat Wanlayangkoon or “Comrade 112”, Kritsana Tapthai or “Comrade Young Blood”, and Wuthipong Kachathamakul, or “Comrade Ma Noi", (they used their online names in their communications). The dream of the Thai Federation was to change the system of government from the model of “Democracy with His Majesty the King as Head of State” to be a federal system with a president as head of state, with Thailand divided into 10 states. The symbol of the Thai Federation is the white-red-white colored flag.
 
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The idea of changing the ruling system like this is something that contradicts the law, insists by General Prayut Chanocha, the head of the NCPO and Prime Minister at the time. And that what makes it against the law, is that Thailand is not a federation. It is governed by “Democracy with His Majesty the King as Head of State,” and that this is already specified in the constitution that Thailand is one territory which cannot be divided. But the Federation considers a division of the country into various states. And the symbol of Thailand is only the tricolor flag. And he inquired suspiciously, “Do these acts fall within the scope of rebellion or overtrowing the state, or not?”
 
 

The reaction of Thai State against the Thai Federation 

 
It was August 2018 that the earliest reporting on the Thai Federation appeared, with the NCPO intelligence looked into the gathering of the group under the name Thai Federation, which carry out their political movement to persuade the people to agree with them about changing the system of government from “Democracy with His Majesty the King as Head of State,” to a federal system. They undertook activities based on their symbols, for instance making group shirts and stickers and distributing these to members and publicizing the group’s views through leaflets.
 
The first reaction of the Thai state officials towards the Thai Federation group was to block the information of the websites of Chucheep, or Uncle Sanam Luang, with the reason that the contents of the websites broke the lese majeste law and supported terrorism. At the same time, there were sweeping arrests of people assumed to be involved with the Thai Federation in Thailand, who were then taken to the military camps for interrogation before they were released. 5 people were charged—Kritsana, 'Somsak', Prapan, Wanapa, and Jinda—for sedition and for being a secret society according to the Criminal Code Section 116 and 209. And they were accused of being members of the Thai Federation group, of which Chucheep is the leader.
 
We believe this was the first case in a set of Thai Federation lawsuits. As monitor and reported, there are 6 lawsuits altogether. Five defendants have been charged with sedition and being in a secret society under articles 116 and 209 of the Criminal Code as a result of their online communication of ideas about changing Thailand to be federal system and their distribution of leaflets and T-shirts and being a members of the Thai Federation. In September 2018, all of them were able to be out on bail while their cases were tried. 
 
Later on, on December 5, 2018, an investigation found, people likely related to the Thai Federation were out canvasing for the movement, expressing their views, in department stores throughout the country. It appears the people doing this activity, are related to the Thai Federation: for instance they were holding signs with the message “Thai Federation,” and were wearing black shirts in the area of Pathum Wan Skywalk, and wearing black shirts in many different department stores, and their activities included raising the white-red-white flag. Afterwards the police charged at least 13 people on the basis of sedition and being a member of a secret society, according to articles 166 and 209 of the Criminal Code.
 
 
 
The white-red-white flag, black shirts, and loyalty
 
Five of six of the Thai Federation lawsuits are all related to the matter of the black shirts, of which there are three kinds: black shirts with a small white-red-white flag attached on the upper left; black shirts with the message “Federation” written across the chest in white, in English; and black shirts that don’t have any symbols specifying that they are related to the Thai Federation. Of this number, four of the cases arose on December 5, 2018, which is “An Important National Day” [King Bhumibol’s Birthday, and Father’s Day]. The defendants charged for being involved with the symbol of the black shirts are as follows: 
 
 
Black shirts that have a small white-red-white flag on the left of the chest 
 
As for the case of Wanapa, September 6, 2018, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights reported that officials took Wanapa to Military Circle 11. The NCPO says that the Thai Federation in Laos had arranged the making of the black shirts with the white-red-white symbol of the Federation and had Wanapa go get the shirts from her mother in Laos. From the facts of the case, we can specify that Wanapa only picked up the shirts from her mother, and her mother never informed her of the details about the shirts. And it is affirmed that she didn’t know about the Thai Federation and didn’t know who the leader of that group was. In addition, the other defendants who had Thai Federation cases brought against them didn’t know her and had never been in touch with her. 
 
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Black shirts that had the message “FEDERATION” written on them, in English, in white.
 
In the cases of 'Somsak' and Prapan, the charges specify that both defendants are members of the Thai Federation and had arranged to wear the black shirts with a little strip of white and red flag in the upper left and with the white-lettered message in English saying “Federation” across the front of the chest, which is an indication of the Thai Federation organization, and they walked around the department store “The Mall Bankapi” on December 5, 2018. On this particular day, citizens wear yellow. The prosecutor who conduct the case explained that the aforementioned actions express opposition to His Majesty the King. 
 
'Somsak' and Prapan are defendants in the first Thai Federation case. After December 5, 2018, both were taken away and interrogated at Military Circle 11 once again. After they were released, Prapan decided to travel out of the country to Malaysia. And then in April 2019, Prapan was officially detained by Malaysia and sent back to Thailand on May 10, 2019. At that time, Prapan had already registered as an asylum seeker with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Human Rights organizations said the aforementioned act was a violation of legal obligations because Prapan is believed to be a political refugee. Consequently, Prapan’s bail was withdrawn, and she was detained during the trial of her case until now.
 
 
The black shirts that had no symbols of any kind
 
In the case of 'Bali', the charges state that the defendant is a member of the Thai Federation and arranged to wear the black shirts at Central Ramindra department store on December 5, 2018, when the citizens wear yellow. In this case, the facts are that on December 5, 2018, 'Bali' wore a black shirt with no symbols of any kind indicating a connection with the Thai Federation and came to eat at a KFC restaurant. Officials therefore asked to see her ID card. 'Bali' showed her ID card, and she took a picture of officials ID card and went back. After the aforementioned day, she was contacted and visited by authorities at her house many times, and there was one time they tried to search her house at night without a search warrant. In the end, they were not allowed to search her house. Then finally a warrant came out for her arrest in January 2019.
 
 
 

The fate of the leaders of the Thai Federation

 
While Thai authorizes were making a strong effort to wipe out members of the Thai Federation living in Thailand, they fully knew that the various people they caught and brought cases against were not the leaders or important people in the movement. As for the people that the authorities, in their report, accuse of being the leaders or bosses of the Thai Federation––like Chucheep, Siam, Kritsana, Wat, and Wuthipong––these people experience a fate that is not at all easy for them or their families.  
 
The case of Wuthipong
 
On July 30, 2018, Jom Petchpradab, a journalist and political refugee put out on Facebook that Wuthipong Kachathamakul, or Ko Tee [or Ma Noi], was attacked by a group of about 10 men in black outfits, their faces covered by ski masks, with weapons in hand. They broke in, captured him, and took him away around 9:45am local time in the neighboring country, on July 29, 2017. After that, he was never seen again.
 
The cases of Chucheep, Siam, and Kritsana
 
On May 9, 2019, Piangdin Rakthai, one of the political refugees, came out on YouTube and said that Chucheep, Siam, and Kritsana, political refugees in Laos, who had been captured in Vietnam in January, 2019, had now been sent back to Thailand. But there has been no forward progress. At this time, we guess that all three were arrested because they used fake passports in travelling to Vietnam. Part of the reason that they had to cross from Laos into Vietnam might be because unidentify officials were trying to follow and eliminate the group of political refugees in Laos.
 
And until now, we still don’t know what happened to all three people. Are they still alive or are they dead?
 
The case of Wat
 
He had to flee to Laos when the NCPO overthrew the government in a coup in 2014, and he still isn’t able to return to Thailand as of July 2019. Among informed sources about the attempt to wipe out the political refugees in neighboring countries by unidentify troops, BBC Thai reports that Wat was able to travel to France to seek asylum.
 
 

The proceedings in the Thai Federation group cases 

 

Up to September 2019, there were proceedings against at least 17 people who have been charged with being members of the Thai Federation, and these are divided into 6 lawsuits as follows.
 
The first lawsuit, 5 defendants
 
The accusation against all 5 defendants is that they are members of the Thai Federation group, and that they excite their group members and citizens though social media and by distributing leaflets, urging people generally to oppose the monarchy, and oppose the government and the NCPO, actions which are illegal according to the Criminal Code, Section 116 and 209.
 
Status of the defendants: 4 got out on bail; 1 did not.
The status of the case is that witnesses for the prosecution are on the schedule to be examined on November 19-21, 2019, and the witnesses for the defendants on November 22 and 26-27, 2019.
 
 
The second lawsuit, six defendants
 
The accusations are that all 6 of the defendants are members of the Thai Federation, who aim to change the system of government of Thailand from a system of “Democracy with His Majesty the King as Head of State” to be a federal system with a president as head of state; and that they organized an assembly for communicating the aforementioned ideas, and they publicized the event, which is against the law, particularly Section 116 and 209 of the Criminal Code, as well as assembly and computer acts.
 
Status of the defendants: all six were released on bail. 
The status of the case is that witnesses for the prosecution are scheduled to be examined on July 14-16, 2020 and the witnesses for the defendant on July 17 and 21-22, 2020.
 
 
The third lawsuit, 2 defendants
 
The accusations are that the defendants are members of the Thai Federation group, who aim to change the government of Thailand from a system of “Democracy with His Majesty the King as Head of State” to a federal system that has a president as head of state, and that they excite the members and people generally, through the online community, urging members, allies, and people generally to oppose and overthrow the monarchy, oppose the government, and oppose the NCPO.
 
Both defendants, with their group, arranged to wear black shirts with a white-red flag strip attached on the left side of the chest, and in white letters in the middle of the chest, a message in English saying “FEDERATION,” which is a symbol of the Thai Federation, and they walked around in the department store “The Mall Bankapi” on the December 5, 2018, on the aforementioned day when the citizens wear yellow. To express opposition to His Majesty the King is illegal according to Section 116 and 209 of the Criminal Code.
 
Status of the defendants: is that one person was released on bail.
The status of the case is that the criminal court has scheduled the examination of prosecution witnesses on January 16-17, 2020, and the examination of defense witnesses on January 24, 2020.
 
The fourth lawsuit, three defendants

The accusations are that the defendants are members of the group the Thai Federation, which aims to change the system of the government of Thailand from a system of “Democracy with His Majesty the King as Head of State” to be a federal system that has a president as head of state, and that they excite their members and people generally through social media—for instance Facebook, LINE, YouTube—urging their members, allies, and citizens generally, to go to the department store “CentralFestival, Chiang Mai” in order to come out and oppose and overthrow the monarchy, oppose the government, and oppose the NCPO, which is illegal according to Section 116 and 209 of the criminal code.
 
Status of the defendants: one person was released on bail; as for the other two, we don’t know if there has been any movement.
The status of the lawsuit is that the criminal court scheduled the examination of witnesses and evidence for October 7, 2019.
 
The fifth case, one defendant
 
The accusations are that the defendant is a member of the Thai Federation group, which aims to change the system of government of Thailand from a system of “Democracy with His Majesty the King as Head of State” to a federal system with a president as head of state, which excites its members and citizens generally through social media, urging members, allies, and citizens generally to oppose and overthrow the monarchy, oppose the government, and oppose the NCPO. The defendant and their group arranged to wear black shirts at the department store Central Ramidra on December 5, 2018, which is illegal according to Section 116 and 209 of the Criminal Code.

Status of the defendant: released on bail. 
The status of the case is that the criminal court has arranged the examination of prosecution witnesses for February 18-19, 2020, and the examination of defense witnesses for February 20, 2020.
 
 
The sixth lawsuit, one defendant

The accusations are that the defendant is a member of the Thai Federation group, which aims to change the system of Thai government from as system of “Democracy with His Majesty the King as Head of State” to be a federal system that has a president as head of state, and that the defendant arranged with their group to go hold up a white-red-white flag at the department store CentralPlaza Ubon Ratchathani on December 5, 2018, which is illegal according to Section 116 and 209 of the Criminal Code.
 
Status of the defendant: released on bail.
The status of the case is that the prosecuting attorney is scheduled to hear charges on September 23, 2019.
 
 
 
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