2014 Situation Summary Report 1/5: Summons, Arrests, and Arbitrary Detention under Martial Law

 

Following the seizure of power by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) on 22 May 2014, the long years of large-scale mass demonstrations and political turmoil came to an end in Thailand. 

Since then, the NCPO has summoned at least 666 individuals to report and arrested at least 362 individuals. The total number of individuals who reported following being summoned or were arrested is 976. At least 134 of these individuals were arrested for taking part in peaceful demonstrations.  

The number of those summoned and arrested at a given time depended on the political situation and the number of anti-coup activities. Under martial law, the military has the power to detain any person without charge for 7 days. During the period of detention, detainees were not allowed to contact either relatives or lawyers; the locations of detention facilities were also classified. 

Moreover, the detainees were also intensely interrogated in order to obtain information, discover evidence of crimes committed, and to adjust their attitudes. Some detainees were forced to sign an agreement stating that they will cease taking part in politics. Some detainees were charged following their detention under martial law. There are also reports that at least 28 individuals were tortured or treated inhumanely while in detention.

 
The NCPO used at least two approaches to create an orderly political atmosphere.
1. The declaration of martial law

Martial law was declared nationwide on 20 May 2014. It allows military personnel to arrest any person without a warrant; arrests can be made at any time and place, even on private property. The suspects can be detained for up to 7 days without charge or any reason being given. The military also has the authority to detain suspects in undisclosed locations. Suspects are not permitted to contact either their relatives or lawyers.

2. The issuance of summons orders by the NCPO

After the coup, the NCPO summoned individuals to report using different channels including broadcasting the orders on television, contacting them via telephone call, and sending them letters summoning them to report. In some cases, the order was delivered by a group of military personnel arriving at an individual's residence. Individuals who were perceived as leaders of political movements or suspected to be involved in the movements were summoned for “attitude adjustment.” Some were asked for cooperation and requested to not join political activities for the sake of peace and order. Some were detained under martial law. Following their detention, many had to sign an agreement stating that they would not join any further political activities.

 

Beginning on 23 May 2014, the Freedom of Expression Documentation Center (iLaw) recorded statistics of the summons and arrests of individuals by collecting data from the NCPO summons orders, news reports from various agencies, networks in local provinces, and interviews with individuals who were summoned, arrested, and/or detained. 

Only data that is credible and verifiable is collected here. The numbers of cases and individuals detailed in the different incidents noted below are most likely lower than the actual numbers.

 
190 2014 Arrest Statistics 2014 Arrest Statistics
 
 
What happened after 22 May?
May: The NCPO seized power, summoned individuals, and banned demonstrations and anti-coup activities.

After the NCPO seized power, they summoned leaders of political groups, politicians and activists to report. The NCPO also arrested leaders of some political groups as well as individuals who may have been involved in anti-coup demonstrations. Most individuals were detained for the 7 or fewer days allowed under martial law, but some were detained for more than 7 days. Some individuals who were summoned later said that they were interrogated harshly during their detention. 

Individuals who participated in public assemblies were arrested in two different ways: some were arrested by the police/military in public while others were photographed and then arrested later. The NCPO also summoned individuals who were suspected to be leaders of demonstrations in order to control the political situation and prevent mass provocation.

From 22 to 31 May 2014, at least 139 individuals were arrested. This included 84 individuals who had connections with the Pheu Thai Party or the United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), 9 individuals who had connections with the Democrat Party or the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) or the Students and Peoples Network for Thailand’s Reform (SPNTR), and 7 individuals who were academics, writers, DJs, or activists. This also included 33 individuals who were arrested because they were involved in peaceful demonstrations. In 6 cases, the reasons for arrest have not yet been identified. 

During this same period, at least 234 individuals were summoned to report. There were 189 individuals who were summoned via their names being broadcast on television while 45 individuals were issued summons locally. The NCPO made the sole decision about who was on the summons’ lists. The individuals summoned were not informed of either the reason or the charge. The NCPO also had the authority to detain individuals who were summoned without providing information about their whereabouts for 7 days. 

 
June: The criminalization of the 3 finger salute and the consumption of sandwiches.

Demonstrations continued in June. There were demonstrations in several areas such as Paragon and Terminal 21 shopping malls. The display of the 3 finger salute (a mimic of the gesture seen in the Hollywood movie The Hunger Games), the reading of the book 1984 and the eating of sandwiches in public places were also used as anti-coup symbols. 

Even though the protesters chose symbolic actions instead of large-scale mass demonstrations, they were nevertheless arrested and charged for involvement in political demonstrations.

From 1 to 30 June 2014, at least 67 individuals were arrested, including 35 individuals who were arrested for taking part in peaceful demonstrations.

During this same period, at least 131 individuals were summoned to report. There were 96 individuals who were summoned via their names being broadcast on television while 35 individuals were issued summons locally. Following the conclusion of the 7 day period of detention under martial law, at least 3 individuals were charged with violation of Article 112 of the Criminal Code.

 
July: The NCPO’s actions resulted in the decrease of demonstrations yet summons continued

In May and June 2014, a large number of individuals were arrested and charged for participation in anti-coup activities. Of most significant concern, the NCPO was the sole entity with complete authority to determine who should be arrested and how long s/he should be detained.  Moreover, those who faced charges of violating orders of the NCPO were to be processed in the military court system in which there is no right to appeal. This may be one of the reasons why the frequency of anti-coup activities declined in this period. Only 2 individuals were arrested in relation to anti-coup activities in July.    

Meanwhile, the NCPO continued summoning individuals in various local areas. Numerous academics and activists that supported democracy were summoned. For example, members of a group of students from Khon Kaen University called “Dao Din” (stars on earth) were summoned for “a talk” by the NCPO. They were asked to cease their participation in a movement concerning a gold mine in Loei province.

From 1 to 31 July 2014, at least 17 individuals were arrested. This included 8 individuals who had connections with the Pheu Thai Party or the United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), and 4 individuals who were academics, writers, DJs, or activists. This also included 2 individuals who were arrested for taking part in peaceful demonstrations.

During this same period, at least 28 individuals were summoned to report. There were 7 individuals who were summoned via their names being broadcast on television while at least 21 individuals were issued summons locally.

 
August: The NCPO banned all expression, political or otherwise

In August, a number of groups began to take action on various matters that were not criticisms against the NCPO. This included the Partnership for Energy Reform that held a demonstration and Amnesty International Thailand that organized a campaign against violence in Israel and Palestine. Although these demonstrations were not connected to the anti-coup movement, some activists were arrested and some activities were banned.

From 1 to 31 August 2014 at least 25 individuals were arrested including 3 individuals who had connections with the Pheu Thai Party or the United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), and 2 individuals who were academics, writers, DJs, or activists. This also included 19 individuals who were arrested for taking part in peaceful demonstrations. In 1 case, the reason for arrest has not yet been identified.

At least 5 individuals were summoned to report by local security authorities, including members of a red shirt group in Chiang Mai province and students from the Faculty of Liberal Arts at Ubon Ratchathani University. The NCPO declared that they would stop summoning individuals to report via television broadcast in response to public pressure. However, summons still continued at the local level. 

 
September:  Academics were arrested for organizing a seminar and students were summoned for hanging banners on flyovers 

In September, anti-coup activities decreased significantly. During this month, the only reported arrests were those of members of the Partnership for Energy Reform for holding a gathering in which more than 5 persons gathered in a public place to campaign on energy issues unrelated to the NCPO. In addition, academics and students at Thammasat University were arrested for organizing a seminar but they were released on the same day.

From 1 to 30 September 2014, at least 22 individuals were arrested including 11 individuals that were arrested for taking part in peaceful demonstrations.

At least 3 university students were summoned to report. The students had hung a banner on a flyover to commemorate the 8-year anniversary of the 2006 coup. The students were taken to a police station where they were each fined 1,000 baht.

 
October: A red shirt activist was arrested after a funeral and Lahu and labour leaders were summoned

In October, the military arrested Nueng, a member of the red shirt movement at Bang Pai Temple after he attended the funeral of Apiwan Wiriyachai, a former red shirt leader. He was arrested because he joined an anti-coup demonstration at the Victory Monument on 28 May 2014 and was identified in the footage of the demonstration taken by the authorities. 

This month had the highest rate of summons in local areas. The military summoned at least 5 individuals who were members of labour groups in Rangsit and Navanakhorn to clarify their plans to come to Bangkok to follow up the resolution of labour problems with the Ministry of Labour.

In addition, Sukit Poonsrikasem along with 30 leaders of the Lahu ethnic minority group were summoned to meet with the military after they tried to appeal to the NCPO concerning a case in which the forestry authorities seized buildings and crops in the Taksin Maharat National Park.

From 1 to 31 October 2014, at least 5 individuals were arrested including 2 who had connections with the Pheu Thai Party or the United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD). In 3 cases, the reason for arrest has not yet been identified.

At least 39 individuals were summoned by the NCPO during October.

 
November: Students inspire a return to anti-coup activities 

In November, anti-coup activities resumed. Meanwhile, the number of individuals arrested due to their involvement in anti-coup activities was as high as it was in the first period following the coup. First, the student group “Dao Din” (stars on earth) carried out a symbolic action and displayed the 3 finger salute in front of General Prayuth in Khon Kaen province.

Subsequently, a number of anti-coup activities led by students took place, including activities of the Thai Students Center for Democracy (TSCD) and the League of Liberal Thammasat for Democracy (LLTD). In response, the military intervened and arrested some of the activists. This included the arrest of activists from the land reform movement in Chiang Mai and the arrest of Kasetsart University students who arranged a campaign against the EIA process of Mae Wong Dam. These activists were released on the same day.

Apart from the arrests of anti-coup activists, other crucial phenomena in this month included the arrest of Lieutenant General Pongpat Chayapan and members of his networks. They were accused of committing lèse majesté by citing the name of the monarchy to enhance their business activities.    

The summoning of individuals did not decrease in this month. Individuals who signed  a petition by the Northeastern Civil Society Group to “oppose reform under the military’s boots” were summoned. Furthermore, members of the groups active in the Pak Mun Dam campaign were invited for talks with the military and were asked to cease their campaign. The military also issued a letter to summon professors and students from Mahasarakham University.

From 1 to 30 November 2014 at least 47 individuals were arrested including 34 individuals who were arrested for taking part in peaceful demonstrations.

At least 25 individuals were summoned by the NCPO in November.

 
December: Arrests with new charges and summons as deterrence 

In December, those who expressed their political opinions online were arrested. This included the arrest of Thanaporn who was accused of posting comments regarding an incident in which military officers lost their lives in a helicopter crash. He was detained at a military camp for 7 days and was charged with defamation of the dead. In another case, a married couple was charged with lèse majesté. The wife was released but the husband will be processed in the military court. However, the overall number of arrests in this month represented a significant decline in comparison with prior months.

Students, academics and activists were summoned this month. This included 4 lecturers and students from Mahasarakham University, 6 lecturers and students from Ubon Ratchathani University, and 5 students from Burapha University who distributed pamphlets on campus. This also included a group of red shirt activists who posted a photo of themselves wearing black clothes in December to Facebook. The NCPO also summoned 5 leaders of the Coalition of Baan Song Rubber Planters and their allies in Surat Thani province.

From 1 to 31 December 2014, at least 5 individuals were arrested. 

At least 23 individuals were summoned by the NCPO in December. 

 
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What did the people (who resisted the NCPO) face?
Summons

From 22 May until early June, the NCPO issued 34 orders signed by General Prayuth summoning 476 individuals to report to the Army Auditorium in the Thewet area of Bangkok. These summons orders were broadcast to the public via television as well as radio.

Those who were summoned were not informed of the reason why they were targeted. They were not allowed to contact either their relatives or lawyers. Their electronic gadgets were confiscated. After checking in with the military, most of them were loaded into vans with dark-tinted windows and transferred to detention facilities that included military camps in Bangkok as well as other provinces including Ayutthaya and Ratchaburi. 

After holding power for a month, the NCPO stopped summoning individuals via television and radio broadcast. Instead, the NCPO assigned local military personnel to summon individuals who resided in their area of operation. At least 163 individuals were summoned locally via summons letters, phone calls and house visits. In some cases, those individuals were detained for 7 days under martial law while some were released on the same day after “discussing” with the military.

Out of a total of at least 666 individuals who were summoned, there were at least 142 individuals whose status (reported, arrested, or neither) could not be confirmed. At least 50 individuals decided not to report and are currently on the run.

 
Interrogation, attitude adjustment and being forced to sign documents

There are numerous accounts of what happens during detention including but not limited to the following scenarios. A high-ranking military officer conducts “attitude adjustment.” Some were interrogated by a committee of 5 to 9 persons to assess the possibility of pressing charges. Some were interrogated and pressured to implicate other individuals. Some were detained without interrogation. The NCPO also confiscated mobile phones and other electronic devices in order to check for connections as well as whether or not the owner may have used the device to commit offenses such as lèse majesté.  

Individuals who were arrested or detained were interrogated about their political opinions and military officers tried to convince them of the rationale behind the coup. One detainee said that military officers posed the question to him that, “Do you think this ‘revolution’ affected the country’s economy or not?” He was given three choices: a) not affected; b) affected or; c) maybe or maybe not affected. The detainee described his fear when he looked up and saw two armed officers standing next to him; he felt an overwhelming urge to choose the first answer.

The duration of detention varied depending on if and how the detainees cooperated with the military, the urgency of the interrogation and, finally, the discretion of the military officers.

After the interrogation was complete or the detention term permitted under martial law expired, detainees were released. Prior to their release, each detainee had to sign an agreement that stated that s/he would not engage in political activities and would not leave the kingdom without authorization from the NCPO. Moreover, the detainees were compelled to consent to prosecution and the freezing of their assets should they violate this agreement. They also had to sign a declaration that stated that they were, “treated well, were not harmed, coerced, threatened, deceived, tortured, or treated unjustly,” during their detention.

 
Circumstances of arrest under martial law

The cases noted below highlight the different kinds of experiences of detainees.

Arrests made during demonstrations or following the display of political symbols

Pinyophab participated in a demonstration in front of the McDonald’s outlet near the Ratchaprasong Intersection. He shouted that he was ashamed of the coup. Military officers broke through the crowd to arrest him. During the arrest, the officers held down his head to stop him from shouting and brought him to an ambulance that was parked in the middle of Ratchaprasong Intersection. 

Woraphop also participated in a demonstration in front of the McDonald’s outlet near the Ratchaprasong Intersection. He participated in the “Eating McDonald’s against the coup campaign.” He was arrested 5 days later by plainclothes policemen while he was shopping at Central World Department store. He was taken to the back of the building and then later to the Royal Thai Army Club for interrogation.

Sunantra participated in a “3 finger salute” activity at Terminal 21 Department Store in the Asoke area. When she was about to leave after the event, a group of casually-dressed men approached her and told her to get in a pink taxi. Sunantra refused and, despite help from other protestors, the men forced her into the taxi. After footage of the incident was released, the authorities initially claimed that it was a fight between a husband and wife, but later admitted that it was an attempt to take her into custody.

 
Arrests at home

Nut was summoned but he did not report himself by the requested day and time. On 7 June 2014 at 1.30 am, approximately 10 armed police and military officers knocked on the door of Nut’s condominium. They forced themselves into his room, pushed Nut down to the floor, and bound his wrist with rubber bands. He was then taken to a military camp.

Siraphop is an online activist. He was summoned but he did not report himself by the requested day and time. In June 2014, a group of armed military officers went to his house in Songkhla; at that time, only Siraphop’s daughter and his infant grandchild were at home.  Upon arrival, the military surrounded his house and some went inside to harshly question Siraphop’s daughter to reveal his whereabouts. When his daughter said she did not know her father’s location, the officers took her and her child to a military camp.

 
Arrests away from home

Thanat (aka “Tom Dundee”) was summoned but he did not report himself by the requested day and time. Thanat called the military to inform them that he would report on the evening of the same day as he could not make it on time.  However, he was arrested while he was driving from his farm to sell his products in the market. The authorities pursued him and made him stop, and then claimed that he was preparing to flee.  

Siriporn, a staff member of the Thai Volunteer Service Foundation, travelled to Doi Chiang Dao with her friends. She took a picture of herself holding a paper with “Say no to the NCPO” written across it and posted it to Facebook. She was taken into custody on her way back from the trip after military and police officers requested to see her ID card and searched her car looking for the clothes worn by the person in the photo. When they realized that she was the person they were looking for, they took her to the Chiang Dao police station.

While a married couple was stuck in traffic near a government building, they were surrounded and the road was blocked by approximately 50 armed military officers who traveled with a truck, a van and 2 sedans. The military blindfolded the husband and tied his hands and then took him to a military van. The wife held on tight to the door and refused to leave the car. She shouted at the officers and screamed for help. Two armed military officers then got into the car and drove her to a detention facility.

 
Arrests after an invitation to “talk”

Thanapol, editor-in-chief of Fa Diew Kan magazine, received a call from a military officer. He was invited for a talk at a coffee shop after he posted political comments on Facebook. The officer assured him that it would only be a talk and he would not be arrested. However, when he arrived at the coffee shop, the officer informed him that his posts were likely to encourage the people to oppose the coup and thus violated the conditions set by the military that he agreed to after being released from his first period of detention. The officer informed Thanapol that he had to be detained once again to prevent further offenses and  he was immediately escorted from the coffee shop.    

 
Detention in excess of the 7-day period permitted under martial law 

Kritsuda was detained for a total of 28 days. She was arrested in Chon Buri province on 28 May 2014 and was released on 24 June 2014. She gave an interview in which she said that she was blindfolded and had her hands bound for 7 days. She was also slapped across her face and body and was suffocated by having a bag placed over her head. She was asked questions about who provided assistance to prisoners and who provided funding for weaponry. She stated that the officers would like her to admit that Thaksin provided support for the prisoners as well as illegal activities.

Yongyuth was arrested by approximately 40-50 military and police officers in Chiang Mai province on 28 July 2014. The police held a press conference concerning his arrest on 1 August 2014. However, from 2 to 8 August, there was no information concerning his whereabouts. On 8 August, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) made inquiries concerning his whereabouts at the Bangkok Remand Prison, the Nonthaburi Provincial Prison, Provincial Police Region 1 and the Crime Suppression Division. No  information was provided in response to their queries. On 9 August 2014, TLHR issued a statement concerning this matter. On 10 August 2014, Yongyuth was brought to the Crime Suppression Division and was charged with possession of weapons and explosives.

Charoen was taken into custody on 14 June 2014.  After 7 days of initial detention, he was taken to Makkasan police station and was charged with possession of explosives along with another person. On the same day, he was bailed out by the authorities and was taken to an unknown location. However, his relatives were able to contact him via phone. On 29 July, Charoen was taken to the Crime Suppression Division and was charged with further possession of explosives.

 
Torture and ill treatment during detention

Chatchawal was arrested together with his wife at an intersection in Chiang Mai province by approximately 50 armed military officers. During his detention, his hands were tied behind his back and he was beaten by 2 men who wore animal masks. He was taken in a van and was beaten throughout the journey. Electric wires wrapped in cotton were stuffed into his anus as well as tied to his genitals; his body was soaked with water and then he was electrically shocked. When he tried to cry out, his head was covered with a bag that made screaming impossible and breathing difficult. A pistol was put in his mouth in order to make him confess where he allegedly hid the weapons. He was detained for many days before he was taken to a press conference and was accused of being involved in M79 shooting incidents.

Kittisak, a suspect in the “Men in Black” case, was arrested at his workplace without an arrest warrant. During his detention, he was interrogated with a bag covering his head in order to prevent him from seeing the interrogators' faces. He was slapped on his head and his mouth.  He was also forced to lie down on the floor and his breathing was made difficult by having men sit on his feet and body. He was tortured to confess regarding the incident on 10 April 2010 as well as to provide the names of other persons who may have been involved in the same incident. The bag was taken off his head while he slept, but his hands were cuffed at all times.

Bancha was arrested in the middle of the night by uniformed military and police officers while he was smoking marijuana with his friends at home. He was blindfolded throughout the entire ride to an unknown location. Upon his arrival, he was kicked, slapped and threatened. The interrogator forced him to reveal the names of those who were involved in the drug network. When he said he did not have any information then he was kicked by many men. After being beaten for an hour, he was thrown into a dirt hole in which his body was buried but his head remained free. He was buried in this fashion for around half an hour before he was taken out of the hole. Bancha was then beaten from midnight until the next morning before he was taken to a police station to pay a fine for possession of marijuana. The evidence that was used against him included 2 packs of marijuana and more than 100 leaves of kratom that were found in his home. (Note Kratom is a leaf that is often abused as a psychotropic drug in parts of Southeast Asia.) 

There are at least 28 reported cases of torture and ill treatment during detention under martial law. Most individual who were beaten or tortured are suspected to have been involved with political violence. 

Most of them were detained for more than 7 days with without charge in unknown locations and were unable to contact anyone. Many detainees pled guilty because they could no longer tolerate their situation. Many are currently being held in prison custody awaiting trial.

 

 

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