Thai police arrested a woman protester for showing support for the US in front of the US Embassy in Bangkok on 4 July, Independence Day.
The police detained Chaowanat Musikabhumi, aka “Nong,” at the Crime Suppressiong Division without charges.
When she was interrogated by the military and security officers at the Thai Army Club, the military officers told her that by holding a placard reading “Long Live USA Day,” she may have violated Article 112 of the Criminal Code or the lèse majesté law that the placard deemed a parody of “Long Live the King.”
She tried to explain that the phrase “long live” is not only used for blessing a monarch as in the Thai phrase Song Phra Charoen, but can be used in many contexts. She added that she was just aimed at showing appreciation for the long-life US democracy.
Chaowanat (left) holds "Long Live USA day" placard in front of the US embassy. (Screenshot of DNN's video on Youtube)
The whole message on the placards of Chaowanat read:
“Long live USA day
Pl. help us, we need democracy. But the Thai elite dislike democracy. The Thai junta pretend not to know. Thank God for giving us today."
"USA, AUS, EU, NZ, etc. Please help us. No martial law. No coup”
On 4 July, while Chaowanat, 52, gathered with other protesters at the Embassy, she was detained twice by plain-clothes officers, but was then released. On 6 July, about ten military and police officers later arrested her at her house in eastern Bangkok. She was detained and interrogated at the Thai Army Club before sent to the Crime Suppression Division.
The authorities also had a record of her joining the protest against the coup at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre the day after the coup, Chaowanat told Prachatai.
Chowanat, a former business journalist, is known to many as "Nong OK Nitirat." In February 2012, while a group of Thammasat alumni rallied at the university to show opposition to the Nitirat academic group, who proposed the amendment of lèse majesté law, Chaowanat appeared alone and held a placard read "OK Nitirat." Chaowanat's placard sparked anger among the protesters and a brief confrontation.
While policial rallies and gatherings are now forbidden under the junta, in late June, a lone protester protested against the US government for downgrading its military relations with Thailand in response to the military coup d’état and. He also insulted former US presidents. The police said the anti-American protest was not violating the law.