March 2016: 3 Computer-related crime cases's verdict rendered, address problem of influential figures with article 44 but villagers summoned

Period 22 May 2014 – 31 March 2016 March 2016
Number of individuals summoned 912 10
Arrests at peaceful demonstrations 214 -
Individuals prosecuted before military court 157 2
Individuals prosecuted before civilian court 48 0
Number of individuals charged with lese majeste offense (Article 112) 62 0
Number of individuals detained under lese majeste charge 50

There were not so much issues from the beginning until the end of March. Only three cases of activists charged under the Computer Crime Act were ruled. There were hot issues at the end of March when incitement suit was filed against those who took pictures with “red bowls”, both of Pheu Thai Party members Worachai Hema and Watana Muangsook spent three nights at military camps, villagers were summoned, and NCPO’s order to empower military personnel to exercise legal authority.


The Computer Crime Act cases’ ruling. Three cases from different provinces; 1 won, 1 lost, and 1 drew. 


There were updates on the three cases relating to the Computer Crime Act in March 2016. The three accused were social and human rights activists.


9 March 2016. Chiang Mai Provincial Court ruled the case of Maitree, an ethnic Lahu activist who was charged under posting a video clip and message accusing military officer slapped on villagers’ faces. The judge dismissed the charge, and reasoned that the plaintiff’s evidence was inconvincible.  Even though the defendant accepted that he posted, but the judge considered that the defendant believed that it was true, therefore it was not an element of crime.  


10 March 2016. Mae Sot Provincial Court scheduled for the testimony of Suraphan, also known as ‘Pho Mai’, of Khon Rak Baan Kerd—local advocacy group against mining in Wang Saphung District, Loei province, was sued by Tung Kham, the mining company. As the message posted on the Facebook page of ‘Muengrae Mueng Loei’, was deemed defamatory and claimed that the mining concessions was granted unlawfully. Prior to the proceedings the judge asked the parties to reconcile. Later the plaintiff agreed to drop charges. Therefore the case was dismissed before Suraphan could defend his case.     


Suraphan, aka ‘Pho Mai’, the villager of Khon Rak Baan Kerd

17 March 2016. Nakhon Sri Thammarat Provincial Court ruled the case of Kampol, an environmental activist who was charged by a researcher for defamation after a Facebook post against the use of artificial reef made by coal's ashes. The judge reasoned that a personal defamation was not considered an issue of public interest. The judge sentenced Kampol 1 year imprisonment and a fine of 40,000 Baht. The prison sentence was being suspended for 2 years.

Kampol, an environmental activist from Nakhon Sri Thammarat Province


Order Number 13/2016 to crackdown on "influential figures" issued by Section 44. But the villagers rallying for making a living were summoned.  


29 March 2016. Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha exercised the Section 44 and as the Head of the NCPO issued the NCPO Order Number 13/2016. He reasoned that there have been groups of people committing crimes that were affected social order or damaged socio-economics. There have been groups of people made a living illegally, such as drug trades, illegal gambling, and unlawful possession weapons. So it was necessary to prevent and crackdown these crimes.     


The NCPO Order Number 13/2016 empowered the military to arrest, crackdown, and question suspects as mentioned in the NCPO Order Number 3/2015, which gave authority the military over political cases. It was clear that the Order was to give more authority to the military. So that they could control the influential people and mafia groups in Thailand. Many human rights groups expressed their concern about the Order.  The military could have too much power to control ordinary people’s rallies on making a living or human rights. The military could even control the activities relating to the referendum.     


Community Resource Centre Foundation and many other environmental organizations made a statement. They concerned that the Order would be used against local leaders who worked for environmental protection, and those who were against development projects proposed by the government. They thought that the government would see the villagers’ activities as undermining the economy. The Thai Lawyers for Human Right Center also expressed their concern. They believed that the Order would be used against villagers who were affected by the NCPO’s policies, such as those who had disputes over the land ownership with the state.        

At the same time when the Order Number 13/2016 was issued, some local leaders and activists were summoned. For example; 


29 March 2016. Prachatai reported that the military personnel arrested Lamom Boonyong, a local fisherman affected by an oil spill in Rayong in 2013. Lamom and 2 other villagers were taker for an attitude adjustment. Other than protesting against the oil spill, Lamon has complained to the Subcommittee on Human Rights and Local Resources, National Human Rights Commission of Thailand. It was after the military and Rayong City Municipality demolishing houses and fishing area along the beach.       


30 March 2016. The Thai Lawyers for Human Right Center reported that the military summoned Taweesak to Sam Khok District Office, Pathumthani Province. Taweesak was the leader protesting against construction of an incineration plant in Chiengrak. The military said that Taweesak was on the list of influential figures reported by the 1st Army Area. Taweesak insisted that he had no influences. He only protested against the plant.        


31 March 2016. Esaan Land Reform News reported that the military asked for Chanthorn Pochan who was not home. They met only Sorn Pochan, 82, Chanthorn’s father. They waited for almost an hour before leaving. Chanthorn helped those who were affected after their rubber tree plantations were cut down by the authority in Sakhon Nakhon Province. 


Both Worachai and Watana spent 3 nights at the military camps 

26 March 2016. Mr. Worachai Hema, a former Pheu Thai Party MP of Samut Prakan Province, told the press that the military had contacted to arrest him at his residence for an attitude adjustment. It was after Worachai urged Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha, the junta leader and the Prime Minister, to take responsibility by resigning should if the current Constitution draft failed to pass the referendum. Later on personnel from the 2nd Field Artillery Regiment Queen's Guard arrested Worachai from his residence and took him away by the van. 


Worachai was released on 29 March. This time he was detained for three days. He has been detained for at least five times.


27 March 2016. Mr. Watana Muangsook, a leader of Pheu Thai Party, wrote on his Facebook after the military came to his residence and arrested him. They referred to the Section 44 for the arrest, which was followed after Watana expressed his opinion on Mr. Worachai Hema’s arrest on his Facebook. Watana said that when the military arrived he was not in. He told the military that he would report to them the following day. On 28 March 2016, Watana reported to the 11th Military Circle as he was told. He was detained for 3 days, and was released on 31 March 2016. He posted on his Facebook and insisted on giving his political opinion.              


Watana has been summoned for attitude adjustments for at least 4 times. One of which was when he was arrested on 2 March 2016. After his military detention, Watana was brought to Nanglerng Police Station to be charged under the Computer Crime Act. It followed after he had criticized Gen. Prawit Wongsuwan, Deputy Prime Minister, who said something inappropriately. It incident occurred when the military personnel tried to take pictures of Miss Yingluck Shinawatra during a funeral rite in a temple. Gen. Prawit Wongsuwan commented because “she was beautiful”.           


At least 912 people have been summoned or visited by the military since the NCPO took power until March 2016. 

Read Special Report on Pheu Thai Party members were re-educated. It was the same old trick that didn’t work but still be used repeatedly.    


Posting pictures with Thaksin’s “red bowls” charged under Section 116

The Thai Lawyers for Human Right Center reported that on 29 March 2016, the inquiry officer of Mae Ping Police Station brought Teerawan, a suspect charged under the Criminal Code, Section 116, after taking pictures with a red bowl, to be detained at Chiang Mai military court,. The judge granted the detention and a bail for 100,000 Baht. A condition was also imposed for not being involved with political activities.     


Teerawan was accused of holding a red bowl and a Thai New Year Greeting poster of Thanksin and Yingluck Shinawatra, former Prime Ministers, and let a journalist from Thairath Newspaper took pictures. Later the pictures were published on the newspaper on 28 March 2016. Teerawan denied all accusations at the investigation. Teerawan said that she found the bowl and the poster, took pictures with friends and posted on Facebook. But Teerawan did not know that a journalist also took pictures. And no one told her that the pictures would be published on the newspaper.        


The Thai Lawyers for Human Right Center further reported on 30 March 2016, Chaiyapin Khattiya, Chief of Thairath Newspaper for Upper Northern Region, was summoned by the military personnel from Fort Kawila, Chiang Mai Province. The military claimed that Thailand’s situation was critical. The news content that published was deemed to create unrest. The content was a one-sided story. They were worried that other party would be unhappy and there would be a conflict. The military asked Chaiyapin not to publish this kind of news again.          


As far as we know and during the NCPO regime, Teerawan was the 39th person who was charged under the Criminal Code, Section 116 for incitement. 

Updates on other cases: Sergeant Prasit released, Thanakorn out on bail, and the Administrative Court postponed the ruling of Somsak’s case until further notice

In March 2016 there were updates on Section 112 cases and political cases as follows;     


4 March 2016. Prachatai reported that the Administrative Court postponed the ruling of Somsak Jeamteerasakul’s case. Somsak was a former history lecturer, Thammasat University. The ruling was supposed to be for the order to dismiss him from work. It was scheduled for 8 March 2019, now was postponed until further notice.   


7 March 2016. The criminal court scheduled for witness examination for the 2nd Section 112 case of Piya. Piya was accused of sending emails with content deemed to be defaming to the King. Emails were sent to Bangkok Bank. The prosecutor informed that there would be 23 witnesses to be examined, and 14 pieces of document evidences to be submitted. The defendant’s lawyer admitted to the fact that the defendant had changed his name. So the judge dismissed some of the prosecutor’s witnesses, and selected only 9 to be examined. The defendant’s lawyer requested that 3 other witnesses to be examined too. Both parties agreed to schedule for the examination on 27 – 29 September 2016.       


8 March 2016. Thanakorn, a defendant under the Section 112 charged for defamation, accusing of clicked like on lese majeste facebook page and satirized the royal dog, was released on bail. The military court demanded 500,000 Baht for the deposit, and suspended Thanakorn from traveling aboard. Prior to the release, Thanakorn was detained for 86 days.   


11 March 2016. The military court scheduled for witness examination for Tanat or Tom Dundee’s Section 112 case. Tanat was accused of lese majeste charges after his speeches in public. The judge ordered all proceedings to be held in private sessions. The defendant lawyer later informed that the witness was Pol.Col. Olan Sookkasem, a police officer of the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD). Pol.Col. Olan answered the lawyer’s cross-examination that after watching alleged video clips, he understood that the king was badly criticized. Even Tanat did not mention any name whatsoever.        


21 March 2016. The prosecutor scheduled Sama-ae, the President of the Federation of Thai Fisher Folk Association, to acknowledge the order after he went to the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives. He went there without notifying the local Police Station, and subsequently was charged under the Public Assembly Act. On the day of the schedule, the prosecutor postponed to 25 March 2016. Later on 24 March, the prosecutor informed Sama-ae that the order announcement would be postponed, and the date was not yet set.  


Sama-ae was interviewed by journalists at Nanglerng Police Station 


25 March 2016. The military court scheduled for witness examination for Tara’s Section 112 case. Tara was accused of uploading Banpot's audio clips to website OKThai. He knew his accusation from a military source. This was the first examination after Tara had been detained for one year. The other witnesses were scheduled to be examined on 8 July 2016.   


26 March 2016. Matichon Online reported that Sergeant Prasit, a convict under a Section 112 case, was released from Bangkok Remand Prison in the evening after a Royal Pardon was granted.  


29 March 2016. The military court scheduled for witness examination for Worajet’s case for defying NCPO order. The witness testified today was Lt. Akkachai Boonpratuengwong, a desk officer. Lt. Akkachai said that Worajet was on the list to be summoned but did not report on time. Later his wife informed that he went abroad for a business trip, but there was no evidence to support. The military court examined witnesses until 12.00 hrs., but it was not finished yet. The next schedule to examine the witness was set for 20 June 2016.     

On the same day, the military court examined a psychiatrist who treated Prachakchai, a defendant for defamation under the Criminal Code, Section 112. Prachakchai was charged after submitting a complaint that deemed to be an offense against the king at the Government House. The psychiatrist concluded that Prachakchai was suffered from mental disorder. Once he believed something then he could not change it.  


30 March 2016. Loei Provincial Court dismissed the case of Tung Kham Mining Company filed a civil case against villagers for defamation. The villagers held up signboard, “This village does not want a mine”, at the entrance arch and in the village. The lawyer said that the reason to dismiss the case was that the court believed that the villagers had been affected and had defended their case lawfully.    


Updates on other cases: Restrained Pravit from traveling to Finland, religious ceremony on anti-mining banned, and Lawyers Council elections prohibited.    

1 March 2016. Manager Online reported that Tanyarat, a leader of anti-gold mining in Pichit Province, informed that on 29 February, at about 19.00 hrs., some 20 of the police, military and administrative personnel came to meet her at her residence. Some of them talked to her at the basement of the house. Some of them waited watchfully at the front. They just stormed in without any document or warrant. They asked her not to hand a complaint to the Prime Minister and forbade those who had been affected to go to Bangkok.


2 March 2016. Wartani reported that rangers of Narathiwat Province came to Isma'a Tae’s mother’s house. Isma'a Tae was the President of Patani Human Righi Organization Network (HAP). The rangers told his brother that they wanted to talk to Isma’a Tae about taking people back home and other projects. This happened one day after HAP held a workshop organized with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on torture data collection.


1 – 6 March 2016. A group of young people of New Generation for Social Change Project, Thai Volunteer Service Foundation, held an activity, “Wonders of freedom” at Bangkok Art & Culture Centre. A part of it was an exhibition about freedom of expression, which was presented as a public toilet. There was an infograghic on the constitution and human rights violations. The personnel of the 1st Cavalry Regiment, King's Guard, were worried and told them to get rid of the pictures. The activists held hands and formed a birdwings-like figure to mark the closing ceremony. The military was not happy and they told the activists that it would be considered whether this was unlawful.             


A toilet wall mock-up to be removed

7 March 2016. Matichon Online reported the members of the Network of Buddhist Groups moved their statement release from S.D. Avenue Hotel to Wat Srisudaram’s meeting room. The statement was a response after the Ombudsman concluded that the Office of National Buddhism wrongfully proposed the appointment of the Supreme Patriarch. There were some police and military personnel stationed at Wat Srisudaram. Then 20 police personnel invited the member leaders who were Phra Medhi Dhammajahn, secretary general of Buddhism Protection Centre of Thailand, Phra Thepprasitthimon, Wat Srisudaram’s Abbot, and Mr. Sathien Wipromma, the President of the Association of Academics for Buddhism, for a 30-minute discussion. When Phra Medhi Dhammajahn came out of the room, he informed that other 2 monks would hold the statement release instead. The monks spoke for only 5 minutes before rushing out of the room and were escorted by the personnel.   


9 March 2016. 30 military and police personnel arrested Sarawut, “Perd Pra Den” webmaster, for his place in Surat Thani Province. Sarawut was taken to be detained at the 11th Military Circle. He was released on 16 March 2016 with no charges. He was detained for 8 days.     


14 March 2016. Prchatai reported that military personnel scheduled to meet Anusorn Iamsaard, Acting Deputy Spokesman for Pheu Thai Party, at the Imperial World Ladprao Department Store. The personnel asked Anusorn to be careful when criticize issues because the country was in a transition period. On the same day Anurak Jentawanich aka Ford Sen Tang Sri Daeng (Ford Red Path) an activist campaigning for ‘Vote No’ to oppose the draft, posted a picture and message on Facebook mentioned that the military came to his house. They came in peace. They did not forbid activities. Anusorn gave them t-shirts and stickers as well.       


16 March 2016. Isranews Agency reported that the NCPO issued an urgent letter to postpone the elections on 24 April 2016 of the new presidents and the new committees of the Lawyers Council. They reasoned that the elections involved many members and each jurisdiction of provincial elections was against the NCPO’s Announcement Number 7/2014 on prohibiting political gatherings or assembly of more than 5 people.  


24 March 2016. Prachatai reported that the military prohibited a religious ceremony, organized by Kon Rak Baan Kerd Bamnet Narong Group, for fundraising to support a protest against a coal power plant in Bamnet Narong District, Chaiyaphum Province. The military pointed out that using the phrase “fighting against” on the envelopes and leaflets was inappropriate. This would create unrest in the area. The military also mentioned that should this kind of activity continued, they would prosecute everyone involved.    


30 March 2016. Pravit Rojanaphruk, a senior journalist who had been summoned by the NCPO, posted on his Facebook that the NCPO did not allow him to leave Thailand due to the conditions of his release. Pravit was invited by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland to attend World Press Freedom Day conference in Finland from 1 – 7 May 2016. Shortly after H.E. Kirstie Westphalen, the Finnish Ambassador to Thailand tweeted to express her regrets for the Thai government’s decision.   

22 May 2014 – 29 February 2016


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