May 2016: Thailand badly criticized at the UPR, Ja New’s mother arrested after replying to a chat sent by Burin, eight administrators of Prayuth-mocking-page released

 

Period

22 May 2014 – 31 May 2016

May 2016

Number of individuals summoned

926

13

Arrests at peaceful demonstrations

225

2

Individuals prosecuted before military court

167

1

Individuals prosecuted before civilian court

49

-

Number of individuals charged with lese majeste offense (Article 112)

68

1

Number of individuals detained under lese majeste charge

53

 

A Government of Thailand faced the dificult time during the UPR

In May, the Thai government was heavily questioned on the human rights situation including a situation on  the  freedom of expression in the 2nd cycle of the Universal Periodic Review or UPR in Geneva on 11 May 2016.


Many countries participating in the session expressed their concerns and gave recommendations to improve the situation on freedom of expression. For example, the Czech Republic, Denmark and New Zealand asked Thailand to end the attitude adjustment programme in military camps. Germany, Latvia and Belgium asked that Article 112 of the Criminal Code be revised. While Norway proposed that this Article should be revoke and that the Computer-related Crime Act should not be applied to limit freedom of expression.

 “Why should we be afraid of other countries who also have laws protecting their leader. I also have a law to protect our King” Gen.Phaiboon Koomchaya, Minister of Justice responded to the media’s questions concerning the issues above.
 
At the same time, the Thai delegation responded to the concerns raised in the session by indicated that the limitation of freedom of expression was for the maintenance of public peace and for reduce political conflict in the country. The delegation stated that the limitation only applied to people who encouraged violence and conflict. With regards to the lese majeste law, the Thai delegation clarified that this law was intended to protect the monarchy in the same manner as defamation law protects common people. In relation to  the Computer Crime Act, the Thai delegation stated that the Act was currently being amended to provide for clear definitions which  would not allow for vague interpretations.
 
487
 
The Civil Society Coalition held a discussion and live broadcast of the 2nd UPR on Thailand from Geneva at the Blackbox Café on 11 May 2016.

Ja New’s mother was arrested for lese majeste offence after having replied to an inbox message on Facebook. 

 

Patnaree, mother of Sirawich Seritiwat or ‘Ja New’, an activist and a student of Thammasat University, was subject to an arrest warrant of the Military Court for alledgly committed an offense against lese majeste law and the Computer-related Crime Act. The warrant was issued in the morning of 6 May 2016. Patnaree surrendered herself to the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD) in the same day.

 
The authorities confirmed that Patnaree had not only responded ‘Ja’ (yeah, ok), but there was more conversation that was deemed to be Lese majeste offense. However, the Police could not reveal more details. The evidence in this case is the Facebook chat between Patnaree and Burin, another person who accused of Lese Majeste in the same case. After being detained at Tung Song Hong Police Station and at the Crime Suppression Division for two nights, On 8 May 2016, the Military Court released Patnaree on bail with cash deposit in the sum of 500,000 Baht. The court also set the bail condition including prohibit Patnaree from traveling abroad as well as prohibit her from taking part in any political activity. See more information on Patnaree’s case here.
 
Following this arrest, on 11 May 2016, many news agencies, including the Guardian reported that Katrina Adams, the spokeswoman for the State Department’s East Asia and Pacific Bureau had expressed concerns overthe arrest and stated that such action (of the Thai government) created a threatening atmosphere and self-censorship.
 

 

 

Released 8 administrators of Prayuth-mocking-Facebook page; however, two accused of 112 were still in detained.
 
On 27 April 2016, military arrested eight administrators of the Facebook page ‘We love General Prayuth’ and ‘UDD Thailand’’. They were later accused under section 116 of the Criminal Code and with Computer-related Crime Act. On 10 May 2016 at 1.00 p.m., the Bangkok Military Court extended the police's petion for pre-trail detention to detain all accused for the second cycle; however, on the same day, the Court also released 8 administrators on bail with 200,000 Baht bail deposit each. Nonetheless, Nattharika and Harit, 2 among 8 accused were detained for further investigation on their lese majeste case. Both were remanded in custody until the end of May.

 

 

491


Eight administrators of the Facebook page “We love Gen. Prayuth” walked out of the Military Court after the court ordered to released them on bail on 10 May 2016  Photo from Banrasdr

Attitude adjustment on 2nd anniversary of the NCPO. Monks, teachers, professors, lead villagers and even politicians are being adjusted. 

 
In this month, the attitude adjustment has continued. It began with Pinkeaw Lueng-aramsri, Professor of Chiangmai University, Rojalake Wattanapanich, the owner of Book Republic and Surapng Sripom, a teacher of a school in Tak Province, who were taken to an attitude adjustment programme in Kawila Camp in Chiangmai Province on 3 May 2016. They were all released without having signed any agreement. It was assumed that they were tincluded in the programme because they took part in “just standing” activity at Ta Pae gate. In the same day, the Thai Lawyer for Human Rights (TLHR) reported that in Ubonrachthani province, Kritsakorn Silarak, coordinator of  Assembly of the poor, who was working on the Pakmoon dam case, was summoned to report himself at the 22nd Military Circle after he had posted statements opposing the Government’s work on Facebook.
 
On 12 May 2016, at dawn, the military officers surrounded the house of Worachai Hemma, a former M.P. of Puethai Party from Samutprakarn Province. The official broked into Worachai's house, pulled out the phone line and deleted images from CCTV. It was expected that the military officers had intended to take Worachai for attitude adjustment as Worachai had given an interview that General Prayuth had used his power as a right extremist. It was also reported that the military had searched the house of Pracha Prasobdee, a former M.P. of Puethai Party from the same province. Somchai Tongyoi, a red-shirt activist was also arrested by the military. Pol.Gen.Srivara Rungsipramnakul, leader of the operation stated that this arrest was part of a mission “Safe Pak Nam," to eliminate the influential people. In this operation, a house of Thanakorn, who was a accused of having insulted the King’s dog, was also searched. Thanakorn’s computer was confiscated; his parents were afraid that other information might have been put in Thanakorn’s computer. See the detail of Thanakorn’s case here.
 
On the same day, Phra (monk) Maha Paiwal Worawanno posted a message on Facebook that military officers had called him and said that they would like to offer him lunch on 14th May 2016. Phra Maha Paiwal added that the military had already visited him five times as they are concerned about the fact that Phra Maha Paiwal had disagreed with the coup from the beginning. On 14 May, the military officers came to Soitong temple and offered him lunch as scheduled. Phra Maha Paiwal gave an interview to the media that the military officers only discussed general matters.
 
On 19 May 2016, Phaitoon Pattana, the Chief Executive of Subdistrict Administrative Organization of Nampu subdistrict, Muang Ratchaburi District and Thanu Ngamyingyuad, a villager in the area, met with Maj.Gen.Jedsada Premnirundorn, the Commander-in-Chief of 1st Pattana Brigade at a meeting room of Rachaburi Provinical Police Station. Maj.Gen.Jedsada exercised a power under NCPO Order No. 13/2016. summoned both to meet on the ground that Phaitoon incited and created conflict among villagers by making a complaint that a waste-recycling factory was releasing chemical contamination underground and causing trouble to villagers. This issued however had been raised over the past 16 years.
 
In the same day, Netiwit Chotipatphaisan, an activisit on education posted on his Facebook account “Netiwit Junrasal” that seven military and police officers had visited his house while he was outside.  The officers claimed that they were assigned to investigate people who were on a  list of influential people and Netiwit was included as one of them.
 
On 21 May 2016, two military officers in camouflage uniform, one plainclothes official together with a village headman requested to meet with Samer, a leader who opposed a coal-fired power plant, both at his house and office in Bumnetnarong District in Chaiyapoom Province. However, Samer was not home and the officers only met with his father and sister.
 

 

 

The freedom of expression in the offline world is limited by the justice system.

This month, the situation of freedom of assembly seems to have eased. An assembly that was held in front of the the US Embassy to protest the US Ambassador’s comments regarding the Human Rights situation in Thailand. Also, no one was arrested for taking part in the activity to commemmorate the 2-year- anniversary of the coup.

However, at least one activity – “Read Harit in a Starless Night” was cancelled by the organizer. Originally, it was scheduled to be held on 28 May 2016 at Let’s Say Café. On that day, the organizer announced that they had cancelled the event without clearly stating the reasons. However, it is understood that the event was prohibited by the Government.

 

Updates on the progress of interesting cases regarding public assembly in May are:

 

490

 

Police officers were observing at the Democracy Monument area while the New Democracy Movement assembled to mark the two-year-anniversary of the coup on 22 May 2016.

 

On 23 May 2016, Thai Lawyer for Human Rights reported that the Bangkok Military Court had sentenced Preecha to 6 months in prison and imposed a 8,000 Baht fine. for defied Order of the Head of NCPO no. 3/2015 as he gave some flowers to Pansak, a defendant in a March for Justice case to show his support while Pansak carried out his activism. However, as the defendant pleaded guilty, the Court reduced his sentence by half to  3 months in prison and imposed 4,000 Baht fine. Prison sentences was however, suspended for a year. See more information about this case here.

 

 
486

 Winyat (middle) and Preecha (right), a defendant in a case alleging breach of section 116 as result of having given flowers to Pansak, gave a press statement after the verdict on 23 May 2016.

 

On 27 May 2016, the prosecutor of Dusit Municipality Court filed a prosecution order against Anon, a human right lawyer and activist as a result of ‘Just standing’ activity to call for the release of Wattana Muangsook on 19 April at Victory Monument without having informed authorities in advance. The Court scheduled for witness examination on 8 August.
 

Amidst the problems and concerns, there have been some positive movements. On 17 May 2016, the Bangkok Military Court dismissed the case of Rinda, who had posted a rumor that Gen.Prayuth had transferred money outside the country. This was after the Military Court and Criminal Court agreed that such action did not fall within the scope of Section 116 but was a criminal defamation which is under the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice. See more details of the Rinda case here.


 

 

Report type: