THAILAND: New Democracy Movement
Review of situations
24 – 27 June 2015
Dao Din Student activists in Khon Kaen
On 22 May 2015, which marked one year since the coup d’état on 22 May 2014, seven student activists of Dao Din Group, a student group advocating for community rights and democracy based at Khon Kaen University, were arrested at Khon Kaen Democracy Monument in Khon Kaen city (northeast of Thailand) at about 14:00hrs. The activists were arrested while peacefully displaying an anti-coup banner and taken to Sripatcharin Military Camp (MSTC 23) before being transferred to the Khon Kaen Provincial Police Station. They were released the next day on bail of 7,500 THB, after being charged for alleged violation of the Head of NCPO order No. 3/2015 (prohibition of any political gathering of five or more people) which was issued by virtue of Article 44 of the Thai interim constitution right after the Martial Law was lifted. The Khon Kaen police set 8 June for the Dao Din students to report themselves to the police but they decided to have not go to the station and form New Democracy movement.
Student activists in Bangkok
On the evening of 22 May, 38 student activists were arrested by police and military officers at Bangkok Art and Cultural Centre (BACC) where they were engaging a peaceful demonstration marking the one year anniversary of the coup d’état. The student activists were forcefully dragged into the BACC, arrested and brought to the Pathumwan Police Station. Reportedly, Mr. Songtham Kaewpanpruk, one of the 38 activists arrested, was allegedly punched in the face and kicked in the chest during the scuffle between the officers and the students and hospitalized at Hua Chiew Hospital. In addition to Mr. Songtham, at least two more students were hospitalized.
Subsequently, around 60 people gathered in front of the Pathuwam Police Station, demanding the release of the 38 detainees until approximately 3:00hrs on 23 May before all of them were released without charges.
However, the police later summoned 9 students to report to police on 8 June 2015 which would be to press charges against them. But the students publicized to the social that they will go there on 24 June 2015.
The New Democracy Movement (NDM)
The group is formed by students from the North, Central Plain, Northeast, and South plus more than 20 community-based organizations on 8 June 2015 at the Democracy Monument in Khon Kaen. Their fundamental five principles include;
- A democratic principle that helps to ensure equal rights and liberties for all Thai people
- A justice principle that helps to resolve conflicts in society
- A public participation principle that ensures self-determination
- Human rights and community rights are fundamental rights of all people and need to be respected and protected against any violation.
Situations on 24 – 27 June 2015
24 June 2015
Situation at Pathumwan Police Station
From 9.30am, about 100 police officials were having a drill in front of the Bangkok Art & Culture Centre (BACC). At 10.30am, about 30 police officials were deployed standing in multiple rows with traffic barriers put out to cordon off the Pathumwan police station. About 100 pain cloth officials were around the station. No one including any people coming to report a case or reporters were allowed inside. Meanwhile, TLHR were informed that seven members of the Dao Din would join the students in Bangkok at the police station. Around 12.50pm. Lawyer Kritsadang who represented the student activists in Bangkok told the press that “the students had no made an attempt to run. They were arrested and then released the same day on 23 May 2015. If they wanted to run, they could have done it. The students were coming to the police station. But whether they would turn themselves in or to sue the police back, it’s up to them”.
At 1.00pm, Dao Din students and seven other students who had been wanted, excluding Nachacha Kongudom and Thatchapong or Chartchai Kaedam who had reported themselves earlier, were taken to the Military Court. A large crowd was gathered to cheer them up in a location nearby (Sam Yan market). Upon arrival, they declared “Today we are not here to surrender, but to report a case against those who physically abused us.” Then, they authorized their lawyers to report the case in their behalf. But Pol. Lt. Col. Rungroj Puttiyawat informed them that it was not possible for someone to report the case in their behalf. They were advised to go one by one at a time to report the case inside the police station. But the students refused the proposal and demanded that the police come outside and receive the complaint from them in front of the market where they were gathered within 3.15pm, otherwise all of them and their supporters would all storm the police station. Later around 3.30pm. Col Burin Thongprapai, a judge advocate, arrived at the Pathumwan police station bringing with him arrest warrants against the Dao Din students.
At 4.00pm, the students marched in rows into the police station, but they hit a block and had to eventually sit down in front of the police station. Meanwhile, Ms. Kessarin Tiawsakul, from the National Human Rights Commission, Puangthong Pawakapan, an academic and Mr. Rangsiman Rome, a student had a negotiate with Col Burin and at 6.00pm, it was proposed that students could get inside the police station to report their cases without being arrested, given that they had to disperse afterward. At 6.50pm, five students not wanted by the authorities and an attorney went inside to report the case. Meanwhile, a Dao Din student (Chatupat Boonyapatraksa) declared that “We shall not resist the arrest, if the authorities insist on exercising the dictatorial power. Otherwise, we would all leave.”
Meanwhile, Dao Din and Bangkok Student activist again called themselves as “New Democracy Movement” (NDM).
At 8.30pm, Dao Din students attempted to enter the police station to check out the warrants against them. If they were not allowed in, they wanted see the warrants and they wanted an answer by 9.00pm. They asked that if the authorities did not arrest them here, they should guarantee their safety. They asked Col Burin for another round of negotiation to no avail. From 9.30pm, the five students went in to report the case and they came out with their attorney to tell the crowd that all the cases had been reported.
At 9.50pm, the crowd in front of the Pathumwan police station has dispersed. But the car driven by Mr. Pansak Srithep with the seven Dao Din students inside was trailed by a large number of undercover officials who came after them by motorcycles. At 10.50pm, Ms. Chonticha Chaengreo posted in her facebook wall that ‘while I was on my way home from the Pathumwan police station, some undercover officials chased after me trying to apprehend me. After they called their superior officers, they decided to let us go (to Loei).”
Situation at Bangkok Military Court
9.45am, Natchacha Kongudom, transgender, one of the eight students wanted from the event at the first anniversary of the coup in front of the Bangkok Art & Culture Centre (BACC), who was supposed to meet police officials at the Pathumwan police station in the afternoon, was charged by the police while she was seeing a doctor at Wipawadi Hospital for her sickness. She was then taken to the Military Court right away, though the car was intentionally driven off-course several times. She arrived at the Military Court around 11.40am.
At the Military Court, Col Burin Thongprapai, a judge advocate, approached and talked to her inside the attorney’s room. The conservation was rather casual. Then, she was indicted for violation of the Head of NCPO Order no. 3/2558 (2015) and for assembling with political purpose, the offence of which is punishable by not more than six months of imprisonment and a fine not more than 10,000 baht, or both. The inquiry officials ask the Military Court to have Natchacha remanded in custody, and it was objected by her attorney since she had not made any gesture of flight and had intended to meet the inquiry officials as scheduled. The Court dismissed the claim and ordered her being remanded in custody for seven days as the inquiry officials needed more time to gather evidence from her. Thus, the attorneys applied for her bail placing 10,000 baht as deposit and citing that the she needed to attend class, had a permanent address and had not made a gesture of flight. At 4.40pm. the Court granted the bail by placing a condition that she be “banned from participating in a political assembly, and from directly and indirectly inciting unrest and violence.”
At 5.00pm, prison officials brought Nachacha to the Bangkok Remand Prison (Male Prison) before releasing her in there around 8.10pm. Please note that prior to her release, Natchacha was subjected to physical examination by a male official, the treatment of which was against her gender and physical appearance since she had received sex change already.
25 June 2015
TLHR was informed at 7.10am that two truck-loads of police officials with at least 20 officials in uniform, and many other pain cloth officials, were guarding the entrance of Suan Ngern Mee Ma, in Klong San, Bangkok, where the members of New Democracy Movement were staying. Meanwhile, Rangsiman Rome posted in facebook that “It’s not yet 7.00am, but many pain cloth officials were approaching me at the place where I stayed to intimidate and harass me.”
Later at 11.15am, the NDM had a press conference to declare their “defiance to the laws issued by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) and their disregard of Section 44 as no law. We hold that coup-making was an act of treason punishable by death. Thus, the NDM repudiated that the laws issued by the NCPO is not lawful and the warrants issued to summon them were not worth heeding to.”
At 2.30pm, the NDM left Suan Ngern Mee Ma and took a bus to Sanam Luang trailed by pain cloth officer’s motorcycles. At 2.55pm, the NDM marched on to Thammasat University to lay wreaths at the 6 October 1976 Monument in the compound. After observing a moment of silence, they started to sing a marching song. At 3.05 pm, the NDM commenced on their march to the May 1992 Monument, arriving there ten minutes later. There, they sung songs, laid wreaths and observed a moment of silence to pay homage to the martyrs during the May 1992 uprising prior to marching on to the 14 October 1973 Monument at 3.30pm.
Then, they marched on at 4.38pm to the Democracy Monument arriving there 4.50pm and declared their resolution to oppose military rule through to the end based on five principles including (1) democracy, (2) justice, (3) community rights, (4) people’s participation, and (5) nonviolence. Then, they had a piece of black clothe wrapped around the Democracy Monument and held up their banners declaring the doom of the dictatorship and the rise of democracy. Then, they explained their reasons to come out against the coup and declared their determination to keep demonstrating. Around 5.15pm, Mr. Adul Kiewboriboon, father of a person killed during the 1992 Uprising and Lt. Boontham Oris from the Center for Reconciliation and Reform (CRR) have attempted to negotiate with the NDM and the officials claiming that any action “has to stay within a boundary given the abnormal situation of the nation.”
At 7.05pm, the students at the Democracy Monument announced their termination of the demonstration, while the surrounding officials kept watch, but had not charge them. All of them dispersed around 7.10pm.
26 June 2015
Arrested of the NDM
TLHR was informed about 12.00pm that some military and police officials including pain cloth officials cordoned off Suan Ngern Mee Ma where the New Democracy Movement members stayed. At 2.45pm, the students gave a press conference declaring no one was behind them, but the people. They kept to the five principles and refused to negotiate with the NCPO.
At 5.15pm., at least 31 officials stormed into the compound of Suan Ngern Mee Ma producing the search warrant and arrest warrants applied by the Samranrat Police Station on charges relating to the violation of Article 116 coupled with 83 of the Penal Code and Head of NCPO Order 3/2558 (2015). Fourteen members were arrested including (1) Mr. Rangsiman Rome, (2) Mr. Wasant Sadesit, (3) Mr. Songtham Kaewpanphruek, (4) Mr. Payu Boonsopon, (5) Mr. Apiwat Suntararak, (6) Mr. Rattapol Supasophon, (7) Mr. Supachai Pookhlongploy, (8) Mr. Apisit Sapnapaphan, (9) Mr. Panupong Sritananuwat, (10) Mr. Suvicha Pitungkorn, (11) Mr. Pakorn Areekul, (12) Mr. Chatupat Boonyapatraksa, (13) Mr. Pornchai Yuanyee and (14) Ms. Chonticha Chaengreo. They were driven by the police to the Pra Ratchawang Police Station. Meanwhile, around Suan Ngern Mee Ma, a group of local people were holding banners to protest against the Dao Din.
Around 6.00pm, all the students arrived at the Pra Ratchawang Police Station. The whole compound was completely locked down. Traffic barriers were put up to barricade the police station preventing anyone from coming in and out. No other persons, except attorneys from TLHR were allowed inside. At 6.30pm., Sulak Sivaraksa, a renowned social critic, arrived, but was not allowed inside. So he decided to leave. Only Mr. Krisadang Nutcharas, attorney of the seven members in Bangkok arrived and were allowed to get in there. Around 7.30pm, the other members of NDM who were not arrested were singing songs and writing to give moral support to their friends in front of the police station while a group of reporters were standing by.
At 8.30pm., Pol. Lt. Col. Alongkorn Sodkhomkham explained to the press that the fourteen detainees shall be brought for the order of remand in custody at the Military Court tonight. Inside, while the police officials were reading content of the arrest report to each of the alleged offenders, the students refused to sign the reports claiming that when the arrest took place, they were not informed of these rights. At 9.00pm, the police officials read again the arrest reports, and still the students argued that the arrests committed against them were unlawful since they were not immediately informed of their rights upon the arrest. Also, during the arrest, the military officials failed to declare their names and identify themselves as officials. They were not clad in their fatigues and they did not try to run away, so they could not sign in the arrest reports. Around 9.30pm, the police officials brought the students on a minivan and drove to the Bangkok Military Court with a throng of supporters. At the Bangkok Military Court, the officials sealed of the area. At 9.52pm, upon arrival at the Court, the attorneys asked to submit their objection to the remand in custody application. The attorneys were allowed to get inside.
At 10.52pm, the Military Court commenced the hearing to have the fourteen alleged offenders remanded in custody. All of them pleaded against the remand in custody claiming there was no ground for them to be held up. The hearing was conducted off limits to anyone but their attorneys and the students. At 0.15am of 27 June 2015, the Military Court granted the remand in custody of the students for twelve days until 7 July 2015. At 0.30a, the students were taken to the prisons; thirteen males were taken to the Bangkok Remand Prison, one female to the Woman Correctional Institution while the crowd was chanting to give them moral support. There was group of 20 people gathered at the Chana Songkhram Police Station, before dispersed themselves.
27 June 2015
Searching TLHR attorney’s car
0.30am, Pol. Maj. Gen. Chayaphon Chatchaidet, Bangkok Metropolitan Police Division 6 Commander, and other police officials asked to search a vehicle belonging to an attorney of TLHR (Sirikan Cahroensiri). As no search warrant was produced, the attorney denied the request. The officials tried in vain to tow the car to the Chana Songkhram Police Station as the towing truck was broken. At 1.30am, the military officials were deployed to watch out the car. At 1.50am, the police officials locked the wheels and sealed the door handles with pieces of paper to prevent the TLHR attorney from opening the car arbitrarily.
At 9.45am, a group of reporters were observing the car search to look for belongings left by the members in front of the Military Court, but the search team has not arrived. At 10.48am, the officials radioed the guards to close down entrance to the Military Court as the search was about to begin. At 11.00am, the police officials of Samranrat Police Station called and informed the attorney that a court warrant had been obtained from Criminal Court and officials from the Office of Police Forensic Science arrived at the car by 11.30am, though the search had not been commenced.
At 12.45pm, the attorney who owns the car reported to police at the Chana Songkhram Police Station against the police for their abuse of office, violation of Article 157 of the Penal Code, since despite having no lawful power, they proceeded to forfeit the car. The officials failed to record the complaint, but simply came to inspect the crime scene.
At 3.05pm, Bangkok Metropolitan Police 6 Deputy Commander with the Superintendent of Samranrat Police Station came to the car and produced the search warrant claiming to have seen objects handed by the alleged offenders and kept inside the car. Equipment found in the car included computers and mobile devices such as tablets and mobile phones. Five mobile phones belonging to the members were forfeited. As the search was going on, one police official brought the mobile phones unsealed and unenveloped outside the crime scene before returning them to the military court while the searching still going on. Later on, the officials said all the items shall be brought to and be opened at the Office of Police Forensic Science on Monday 29 June 2015 at 1.00pm.
Later, at 5.30pm, the attorney went to the Chana Songkhram Police Station to press the police to accept to the complaint. After some negotiation, the police agreed to receive the complaint at around 10.30pm.
Recommendations to international community
- Stop trying civilians in the Military Court.
- Stop criminalizing the members and people who exercise their right to freedom of expression peacefully.
- Stop intimidating and harassing lawyers when they perform their duties.
- Visit the New Democracy Movement who are being held in custody also monitor and observe trials.
Click to Download 20150701_TLHR – Review of NDM Situations 24-27 June 2015