Change.NCPO "Nueng" a mother frontline activist who had become a defendant in two political cases under NCPO

As far as I can recalled, New started his activism in 2011 while he studied in the second year at Thammasart University. Initially I thought my son just taken part in ordinary student activity like a rural development volunteer camp but later on I realized that his activism was extraordinary. However, I didn't really stop him from what he is doing I just simply asked him that he must maintain balance between his activism and his study.  
 
The activity "My dear election" at the BACC (Bangkok Art and Cultural Center) in February 2015 was the first time that New was arrested for taken part in political activity. I still remember a moment that New called me to inform about his arrest. He asked me if I could go to see him immediately? When I asked him were he is? He replied in a plain voice that he is at Patumwan Police Station.  
 
After New told me that he was arrested I was cry like crazy. I don't really know about the case or the law but my head went blank because I heard that New might need 15,000 Baht for his bail bond. I can only asked my self "Where on earth I can get that money?"
 
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Once I heard the answer I quickly left the house to see him at the police station. The distance between my home and Patumwan Police Station was quite far. I was confuse and had to ask about the direction along the way. Throughout my journey I was worrying about where to get a money to bail my son out. My though kept repeating about this all the time I was on the bus.
 
When I arrived at Patumwan Police Station I saw a lot of people. I asked the police there where can I find my son. The police asked me what was accusation that your son faced? I replied him I don't know but he is student from Thammasart University. "Oh is your son called 'Sergeant New'?" I was confuse when he replied me because New is a name of my son but I don't know what sergeant is. (sergeant is alias that some of New's friend used to called New as part of his name, later on the press also called him the same way in their headline.)  
 
The same policeman asked me later if I prepare money to bail New out? I was shock when he said that the bail bond could be as high as 150,000 Baht. "Oh shit what I am going to do? I asked my self and wondering how can I seek for that amount of money.    
 
Before I arrived at the station I imagined that New must had been held in the police's cell like in the films but the police told me that New is being inquired on the second floor of the building and he should coming down soon. The station was packed with people at that time, I don't really knew anyone. All I can do was just sit quietly and cry. Then someone had approached me to say Hi and I heard someone said "New's mother is here" then activists who followed New to the police station come to talk to me and cheer me up.    
 
In that day I stayed at the police station the whole night, the police and the activists who were arrested including New cannot agree upon release condition. The police told the activists that they would be release without a money deposit but they have to agree on a condition not to participate in political activity. The activists including New couldn't agree on this condition. Luckily, in the early morning of the next day the police agreed to release all 4 activists without condition. 
 
After his first arrest, New still continue with his activism and was later prosecuted in many other cases. Every time I heard that he was arrested I was worried equally because I have to think about how to get money to bail him out. Police treatment for political cases sometime also intense the situation, they usually set up certain restrictions such as prohibit photo taking.
 
After New had been arrested several times I started to ask for contact such as Line ID from his friends because I knew that when New get into trouble or when he was arrested, he usually turn off his cellphone. Sometimes New's friends sent me chitchat and that how I got into trouble. One of his friend talked to me so long and he later ended that "Today I was too strong please do not criticize me." I just replied him like 'aha' and that was how the story began. 
 
The person who chat with me at that time was later arrested with Lese Majeste. Once I heard that he was arrested I asked the lawyer if I am at risk to be prosecuted?, the lawyer told me that "If you only sad "aha" there should be no problem. Eventually, the lawyer was wrong. It turned out that I had became subject of prosecution by the authority. One day while I was at work New called me and asked "Mom do you know you was on arrest warrant?" I replied him with daze and confuse. "What accusation son?" New then replied me "It was Lese Majeste." Suddenly, I felt like I was constantly hit by a hammer on my head. I can only said to myself "I'm fucking doomed" 
 
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Even I never taken part in any political rally I did aware that Lese Majeste is a serious accusation but after I took a few moment to be with myself I had decided to turn my self in. The lawyer and New kept asking me if I am sure about that. I replied them that the decision had been made. I am aware that many who face this accusation cannot hey bail but I was optimistic that since I had showed my sincere the police might set me free. After the decision had been made, I told New about food I had prepare and told him that I had left some cash with someone and I might be away for couple days. After everything being set I then heading out to the police station.      
 
While I was on the bus number of friends called and asked me to reconsider a decision to turn myself in but I refused. It turned out that I made the right call, after being held at the station for a couple nights the Military Court had released me on bail.  
 
After I was prosecuted with Lese Majeste I was charged once again with political assembly case. (A case against participants in a political rally of the people who want an election at BACC #MBK39). Actually, I am just an ordinary who work for living. I never taking part in any political rally. If I knew that there will be a protest in a certain location I will try to avoid the area. But there was one incident that change me. Once New participated in a train ride to Ratchapak Park activity. (this activity was a response to corruption scandal over the construction of a park that bear statues of 7 former kings) At that time New and other activists had to ride the train from Bangkok to Hua Hin where the park was situated. However, their train was cut on the way. New and other activists were arrested and were transported back to Bangkok. After he was arrested I lost contact with him and there was confusion and rumors about their whereabouts. After that time I told myself that I cannot just wait for a phone call when my son is arrested anymore. I should be there with him.       
When New started to join a protest to demand for an election in 2018 I started to follow him to the protest site. If New was arrested at least I know straightaway and be able to assist him if he need. At the protest site I usually keep distant from the protesters. Sometime New asked me to hold his bag or going to convenient store to buy water or batteries for him I assist him as far as I could but I never taken part in the protest. Sometime protesters who knew me asked if I want to join them but I always refused. At that time I was already charged with Lese Majeste and part of my bail condition was to abstain from taking part in political activity. But with my surprise I was prosecuted for defying NCPO order that prohibit political gathering of 5 people and above. After I aware of my accusation I can only talk to my self "That day I was stood far far away"
 
Even this political assembly case was not too severe compared with Lese Majeste case but for me it was bad enough. I have responsibility to feed the family including my mother, New, New's sister and myself. Every time I spent just to come to report myself with the prosecutor I wasted the whole day because my house was far from the prosecutor office and hence I had no opportunity to work and to earn in that day. Moreover, I had to spend money on transportation just to come and report to the prosecutor office. One time when I and other protesters came to report ourselves, some of us made a joke that "Prison? bring em on!" I just want to reply them right away that I am not ready. For some who followed news about us might think that we had a good time, we had fundraising for bail bond, we gather to take picture while someone made a symbolic gestures but in fact if you ever facing any criminal charge you would no that it was not fun at all.                           
 
After New gradated from Thammasart University New asked me that he will study language and prepare himself to try an exam for scholarship to study abroad. I told him that at this moment I am still able to work and feed the family so he can pursue his dream. New kept his word, he managed to won scholarship to study in India. When his depart schedule approached he once asked me if I could handle situation at home, I just replied him to go ahead with his plan but return home quickly. Unfortunately, New was severely attacked and hospitalized a few day later his study plan was then postponed.
 
Even thought, New's activism made me worried from time to time, especially when he got caught or beaten but never in my thought that I will forbid him from what he is doing. It was the choice he made and consequences he need to take. As a mother I can only stand beside him, in courts or police stations. Even though I could not really help but I at least he knows that I was there for him no matter what he choose.       
 
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Patnaree or "Nueng" is mother of Sirawith or "New" activist of a group called Start Up People who faces number of political cases under the reign of NCPO, including 5 cases for taking part in 5 protest to demand for election and in the case for taking part in "My dear election activity." "Nueng" herself is facing prosecution in 2 criminal cases. One is Lese Majeste case which occurred after she replied "Aha" to another activist who was charged with Lese majeste whom she knew through her son. This case was still ongoing while the case is now transferred from military court to civilian court.
 
Another case was the political assembly case where she went to observe and stay close to her son to provide any assistant if her son was arrested. This case was still with the prosecutor. The Attorney General had reschedule to order whether to file the case to the court of not for at least 16 times. Every time "Nueng" has to travel to report herself and sign a document to acknowledge the postponement.          
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The NCPO rued Thailand for half a decade from May 2014 to June 2019. In this period of time Thai people experience number of change. It had experienced the rise of former coup leader who once claim he wasn't a politician became Prime Minister as Candidate of a political party. See the norms in Thai politics turn backward for example the recognition of Prime Minister who need not to run for an election or see the the senate that came to power via selection not election.
 
Within this period of time, life of some ordinary people who dare to challenge power of the junta also change drastically. Article in this series then wish to dedicate to those individuals who acted peacefully against the junta in its first half of this regime between the May 2014 coup up until the Constitutional Referendum Campaign in 2016.  
 
Photo by Thai Lawyer for Human Rights (TLHR) 
 

 

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