Human rights lawyer interrogated over Facebook messages deemed anti-junta

Thai police summoned a human rights lawyer accused of organizing a peaceful anti-junta demonstration on Valentine's Day to clarify his Facebook messages deemed seditious to the military regime.      

Police from Pathumwan Police Station in central Bangkok on Thursday afternoon summoned for interrogation Anon Nampa, a human rights lawyer from the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), accused of violating NCPO Order No. 7/2014 for organizing a peaceful anti-junta event titled “The election that was loved (stolen)” in front of the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC) last Saturday.

NCPO Order No. 7/2014 states that a political public gathering of more than five people is prohibited and people who violate this order face a jail term of up to one year and a fine of up to 20,000 baht or both.

“I still assert that I disagree with the coup and exercise my rights in criticizing the junta,” said Anon.  

During the interrogation on Thursday, which lasted four hours, the police asked the lawyer to clarify about 30 Facebook messages posted on his Facebook profile between 9-14 February, such as “I miss you”, “Somsak Jeamteerasakul tomorrow at the BACC in Bangkok don’t forget to carry an ID along with you”, and “Down with dictatorship, democracy shall triumph”.

Somsak is a well-known anti-junta and lèse majesté critic now in exile.

(From the left) Pansak Srithep, Sirawit Serithiwat, Anon Numpa, and Wannakiet Chusuwan speak to media after being released on bail in the early hours of 15 February (Photo courtesy of Thai Lawyers for Human Rights)

Anon told the police that the messages were taken from various sources. For example, “Down with dictatorship, democracy shall triumph” is the anti-dictatorship motto from anti-junta leaflets distributed during the 70th Chulalongkorn versus Thammasat University Football Match organized earlier this month. The quote was derived from Krong Jindawong, an anti-dictator activist and teacher who was executed during the ruthless dictatorial regime of Sarit Thanarat (1958-1963).

He added that he will present written testimony which will clarify all the messages to the investigating officers again before 16 March.

Besides Anon, Sirawit Serithiwat, a student activist from Thammasat University, Pansak Srithep, a red-shirt activist and the father of a boy killed by the military during the 2010 political violence, and Wannakiet Chusuwan, a pro-democracy activist, were also arrested and brought to Pathumwan Police Station last Saturday. They received the same charge and were held until the next morning before being bailed.

The event “The election that was loved (stolen)” was organized on last Saturday, Valentine’s Day, to commemorate the latest election on 2 February 2014. The activity was organized by the Resistant Citizen group. Hundreds of people participated at the event, including, around 100 police officers who maintained tight security at the scene and arrested four of its organizers.

See related news:

4 Thai anti-coup activists arrested, charged for holding peaceful gathering