Thai royalists protested in front of the New Zealand Embassy in Bangkok, pressuring the New Zealand government to extradite a lèse majesté suspect living in exile there and threatening to step up measures if the New Zealand government do not comply with their demands.
Rienthong Nan-nan, the leader of the Rubbish Collection Organization, an ultra-royalist group, Satit Segal, Director of the India Thai Business Association, and Maj Gen Charoen Tejavanija, core members the anti-election People’s Democratic Reform Committee, led nearly 60 ex-soldiers, ex-police officers, and others to gather in front of the New Zealand Embassy in central Bangkok on Friday afternoon.
The group came to submit a petition to the New Zealand Embassy urging New Zealand to extradite back to Thailand Ekapop L., (aka. Tang Achiwa), a lèse majesté suspect who fled to New Zealand after obtaining refugee status from the UNHCR.
The ultra-royalist group also threatened to step up measures if the embassy did not comply.
“I and others in the network contacted each other on Facebook to come and hand over the petition to the New Zealand Embassy in Thailand to extradite Ekapop to face legal action in Thailand because what the New Zealand government did is not correct since Ekapop committed a criminal offense not a political one. If the embassy does not do something about this, we will escalate measures,” Matichon Online quoted Satit as saying.
Around 100 police and military officers had to maintain tight security around the New Zealand Embassy during the activity.
Earlier this month, hundreds of ultra-royalists attacked and threatened the UNHCR Office in Thailand on the UNHCR Thailand Facebook page after it was revealed by Thairath Online that the organization had granted refugee status to Ekapop L., an anti-establishment red-shirt activist, who is in exile in New Zealand.
The attacks and threats prompted the UNHCR to close down its Facebook page.
The Rubbish Collection Organization also issued a statement condemning the UNHCR, saying that Thai political refugees are using the UNHCR to undermine Thailand and the Thai monarchy.
On 6 January 2014, Prayut Chan-o-cha, the head of the junta, revealed during an interview on Tuesday that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had sent a letter to the New Zealand authorities in an attempt to try to extradite Ekapop.
The letter pointed out to the New Zealand government that the Thai authorities had issued an arrest warrant under Article 112 of the Criminal Code or the lèse majesté law against Ekapop, and that in order to prevent the suspect from creating trouble in Thailand from overseas, New Zealand should cooperate with Thailand by extraditing the suspect.
However, according to the New Zealand Herald, New Zealand’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade refused to comment on the Thai government inquiry and stated that asylum seekers who have obtained refugee status from the UNHCR can be accepted by New Zealand through a quota system.