An overview on prohibition and intervention on public activities under NCPO regime.

 

Prohibition and intervention on public activities was what NCPO has been doing for the past 3 years. From iLaw’s database which has been collected since 2014 coup until 10 July 2017, there were more than 157 incidents that officers prohibited and intervened public activities. Each time, the officer used different levels of protocols from giving phone call to cancel the activity or coming to the activity venue to intimidate the venue owner. If the activity was allowed, there would be a lot of strict conditions to follow for example asking to change the speaker, not allowing to say some sensitive words like “Dictatorship” or “Rebellion” etc, or creating obstacles like not allowing to use amplifiers, cutting off the electricity etc.

 

710 ทหารขอให้วิทยาการงานเสวนา 3 ปีเผด็จการไทยไม่ให้พูดคำว่า คสช.,เผด็จการและรัฐประหาร

The military officer asked the seminar “3 years of Thai Dictatorship” not to say “NCPO”, “Dictatorship” and “Coup d'état”. 

 

Public activities which have been watching by NCPO mostly were about politics or sensitive issues in that period of time. The most obvious example was the activities that concerning referendum in 2016. Most of those activities were held to discuss about the draft constitution and to create awareness on constitutional referendum. These were right sand liberty of the people to express what they think about the draft of the constitution. However, there were more than 20 public activities that were prohibited or intervened.

Moreover, many of social activists or the organizer of such public activities were charged, for example, leaders of the United Front of Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) was charged for defying Head of NCPO order no. 3/2015 from setting an opening of Referendum Fraud Monitiring Certer, members of New Democracy Movement was charged for violating section 61 of the Constitutional Referendum Act of 2016 for distributing 'Vote No' pamphlets, and New Generation of Citizen was charged with defying Head of NCPO order no. 3/2558 for organising 'Talk for Freedom: The draft Constitution and E-sarn people’ event in Khon Kaen University etc.

 

709 ผู้ต้องหาคดีเสวนา "พูดเพื่อเสรีภาพ" อ่านแถลงการณ์ก่อนเดินทางไปพบตำรวจ สภ.ขอนแก่น

The alleged offenders of the ‘Talk for Freedom’ case read a statement before giving themselves to the police.

 

Going over all these prohibition and intervention on public activities, we might see that the officer exercising power under Head of NCPO order no. 3/2015 and the Public Assembly Act 2015. In legal theory, when the new law which is the Public Assembly Act 2015 is brought in to force, the old one which is the Head of NCPO order no. 3/2015 has to be repealed. However, in practice, both laws are still enforced together for the purpose of suppressing any political movement or public activity.

One of the good example is the case of Anti-coal groups gathering at the Office of the Public Sector Development Commission(OPDC). On 17 February 2017, after the protest has moved out of OPDC, the authority filed a motion to the Court of Justice and asked the court to give an order to dissolve an assembly due to gathering outside the permitted area according to the Public Assembly Act of 2015. On the next day, 5 leaders of Anti-coal groups, 12 participants, and 2 Rangsit University students were arrested without allegation or notification. On 19 February 2560, the military officer said that the gathering violated the Public Assembly Act of 2015 because they moved out of the permitted area.

 

711 ตำรวจจับกุม 3 แกนนำคัดค้านโรงไฟฟ้าถ่านหินเข้ามทบ.11

712 ตำรวจนำรถบัสมาพาผู้ชุมนุมคัดค้านโรงไฟฟ้าถ่านหินไปทำประวัติที่ศูนย์ 191 วิภาวดี

 

However, the Public Assembly Act of 2015 allows the authority to arrest the participants only when the court give an order to dissolve an assembly and declare the area of the assembly as restricted area. On the other hand, the military officer has unwritten authority to "invited for talks” but when the lawyer asked, the officer would say that the arrest is under the Head of NCPO order no. 3/2558 which issued by the power of Section 44.

In addition, the Public Assembly Act of 2015 doesn’t enforce with assemblies inside educational institution, assemblies or meeting under the laws, academic seminars in university or organisation held for academic purposes only. However, there were many of public activities which are held as seminars in university but the authority still enforced law “beyond exemption”, for example, an event called “From Bangkhen to Rajadamnern: Kasetsart University and Thai politics”. This event was held in Kasetsart University and the military officer came to talk with the event’s organiser and asked to cancel the event. He came with a copy of the Public Assembly Act of 2015 and informed the organiser that his event might be against the law. However, the event went on with the participants sitting on the floor.

There was also an act of intimidation against educational institutions, for example, a seminar called “Let’s consider approve or disapprove the draft constitution” which was held by Citizen Forum Group on 7 April 2016 at Saun Dusit University was canceled. That was because the organiser was afraid that it might defy the Public Assembly Act of 2015 so he changed the location to the office of Thai Volunteer Service Foundation (TVS) later. Another incident was a seminar called "Auld Lang Syne on the Public Assembly Act (สามัคคี (พ.ร.บ.) ชุมนุม)” on 19 April 2017 which Faculty of Law, Khon Kaen University cancelled the event by itself. The location then had to change to the house of the Dao Din activist group instead.

 

NCPO also took other legal measures to prohibit and intervene public activities such as the practice of Public Sanitary and Order Act of 1992 (the Sanitation Act) and Referendum Act of 2016. For example Thai Student Center for Democracy (TSCD) held a commemoration banner of the 2006 coup and Nuamthong Phraiwan was arrested for violating Section 10 of the Sanitation Act. The organisers of activity called “Asking for justice” which was held after the Criminal Court dismissed the case against ‘Abhisit and Suthep’ were also arrested and fined under the Sanitation Act. New Democracy Movement (NDM) was arrested for defying Referendum Act of 2016 after gathered to distributed 'Vote No' pamphlets and a form of Election Commission to requested for casting vote outside district.

 

Trends of public activity in the fourth year of NCPO    

Numbers of public activities which were prohibited and intervened under NCPO regime in 2014 were 39 activities, in 2015 were 66 activities, in 2016 were 37 activities and in  2017 were 13 activities. Numbers of prohibition and intervention on public activities which is decreasing might tell us something about Thailand’s political situation.

Worawut, member of Democracy Movement (NDM) said that in the beginning of the coup, the military use the power to control the situation. However, In 2015 NCPO began to settle its political status so some public activities were allowed. In 2016, the political atmosphere was less tense so if that public activities didn't directly challenged the NCPO, it would be able to go on. For the past few year, a lot of activists were intimidated and charged so there were less and less people to fight against NCPO and also less hope for a better day.

Moreover, There are more tools that NCPO used to suppress freedom of expression and public activities, for example arbritary detention in military camps, calling to report, visiting their house without permission and threatening their family. iLaw has been collecting data of prohibition and intervention on public activities under NCPO regime from all sources that are available and verifiable but there might be more banned actives that are out of record.

 

 

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