Five members of Resistant Citizen, an anti-coup activist group, consisted of Mr. Anon Nampa, Mr. Sirawit Seritiwat aka ‘Ja New’, Ms. Payao Akkhahad, Mr. Nutthaphat Akkhahad (mother and older brother of Nurse Kamonked killed during the 2010 crackdown of the demonstrations inside Wat Pathumwanaram) and Mr. Wannakiat Chusuwan, were arrested at the Victory Monument, Bangkok, while assembling there to voice their opposition to the arbitrary detention of Mr. Watana Muangsook by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO). All of them were driven in a police car to the Phaya Thai Police Station, and then put into a minivan en route to the 2nd Cavalry Squadron. They were later released without charge and unconditionally.
Following the detention of Mr. Watana Muangsook, a Pheu Thai politician who voiced out his opposition on the Draft Constitution, on 18 April 2016, Mr. Anon Nampa posted on his personal Facebook inviting people to show their opposition to the arbitrary detention by gathering at the Victory Monument on 19 April 2016 at 18.00. They were told just to wear white shirts and stand there peacefully. The activity was supposed to end at 18.30.
On 19 April 2016, about one hundred police officers in uniform were deployed around the Victory Monument and the adjacent skywalks since 17.00. Five or six trucks with holding cells were spotted around. The police forces were led by Pol Col Atthawit Saisueb, Deputy Commander of Metropolitan Police Division 1 and Pol Col Chanawin Puanpet, Superintendent of the Phaya Thai Police Station with a few media around there.
At 18.00, the Resistant Citizen group has arrived at the skywalk near the Victory Monument to stand up and express their opposition to the exercise of power by the NCPO. After around ten minutes into the symbolic action, the police intervened and nabbed four activists including Mr. Anon Nampa, Mr. Sirawith Seritiwat, Mr. Nutchaphat Akkhahad, and Mr. Wannakiat Chusuwan taking them down from the skywalk and driving them to the Phaya Thai Police Station.
Around 30-40 demonstrators remained on the skywalk flashing three fingers and shouting to demand the release of Mr. Wattana. Meanwhile, a couple of vendors at the Victory Monument were verbally offending the demonstrators accusing them of causing trouble for them and complaining why they did not let the military perform their duties. Around 18.15, the authorities ordered the demonstration to stop claiming it was going to violate the Public Assembly Act. Some demonstrators led by Mr. Pansak Srithep, also a member of Resistant Citizen, moved to the Phaya Thai Police Station to continue their activity to demand the release of the arrested activists including holding a candle vigil and singing “For the People” song.
Around 18.20, the four activists were taken into an inquiry room. Ms. Payao Akkhahad was brought in there later as she was also present at the event. The police asked to photocopy the ID cards of all the persons detained. Lawyers from the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), media, and officers from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)observing the situation were denied entry into the room. All mobile phones of the persons detained were later brought to the lawyer. After the release, Mr. Anon Nampa recalled that while being deprived of liberty, he saw two Humvee trucks pulled over in front of the police station with six uniform military officers. Inside the inquiry room, there were also four or five plainclothes military officers.
Around 18.30, a minivan with a sticker indicated the military unit “the 12th Signal Battalion, the King’s Guard” that had parked near the police station picked up the five activists while about 20 police officers encircling them to prevent the access of media. With the Humvee truck in front, the entourage was headed, initially believed, toward the 11th Military Circle.
Nevertheless, the five activists on the minivan were driven toward the 2nd Cavalry Squadron, the King’s Guard (Sanam Pao), instead. All were brought to a reception room at the dormitory of the military. Their personal information was recorded by the military and their ID cards were photocopied. Later, Col Burin Thongprapai, legal officer of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) approached them explaining that the taking of them here was not an arrest and not an exercise of the power invoking the Head of NCPO Order no. 3/2558. The activity today was not illegal and the Facebook post by Anon Nampa was not found culpable. They were removed from the demonstration site simply to prevent a clash with people who disagreed with them. The officer then showed them release forms for them to sign, but the five of them wrote in the forms that they do not want to sign their names and do not want to act in compliance with the conditions set forth therein.
Around 19.45, the five of them were brought into a minivan and driven to Bic C supermarket at Saphan Kwai. There, they were released without any charge and without signing any papers to accept any restrictive conditions. They had simply given their personal information to the authorities for record.
Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) noted that even though the authorities neither pressed any charge nor forced them to sign to accept any restrictive condition including the prohibition to participate in any political activity, but the detention is still an unlawful detention and an attempt to restrict the right to freedom of expression. Therefore, the public, human rights organizations and concerned agencies should continue monitoring the situation and holding to account the exercise of power by the authorities.