Court rejects request to release Rajabhakti activist taken from sickbed

The criminal court has rejected a request from an anti-junta activist to free a fellow activist held at an unknown location while the National Human Rights Commission has pressed the authorities to disclose where he is being detained.

 

The Criminal Court on Ratchadaphisek Road, Bangkok, on Thursday at about 4 pm, 17 December 2015, for the second time rejected a plea to free Thanet A., a 25-year-old activist who was reportedly taken from his sickbed while waiting for a medical operation last week.

Currently, the medical condition of Thanet and the location where he is being held are unknown.

The court reasoned that under National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Order No. 3/2015, which allows security officers to detain suspects of crimes related to national security for seven days without any responsibility, the authorities could detain Thanet and hold him in custody.  

The petition to free Thanet was filed by Sirawit Serithiwat (aka Ja New), a well-known anti-junta activist from Thammasat University who faces charges for violating the junta’s political gathering ban.

Last week on International Human Rights Day, Wat Tingsamid, the Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), urged that the authorities should reveal the detention location of suspects of crimes related to national security.  

He pointed out that Thailand has signed the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance and that the authorities should comply with the convention.

“NHRC urges that relevant agencies should proceed in accordance to the constitution of the country and international conventions on human rights,” said Wat.

International human rights agencies, such as Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International have recently issued statements urging relevant state agencies to provide medical treatment to Thanet and make his whereabouts known.

“Thailand’s junta has reached a new level of ruthlessness by snatching an activist from his hospital bed, putting him in military detention, and depriving him of needed medical treatment,” said Brad Adams, the Asian director of HRW. “Thanet Anantawong needs to be immediately transferred to a hospital.”

On Sunday, 13 December 2015, two officers in plainclothes reportedly arrested Thanet at his sickbed in Sirindhorn Hospital, Bangkok.

His fellow activists reported that the detained activist has a hernia and intestinal infection.

The Bangkok Post reported that Thanet was taken to the temporary prison in the 11th Military Circle on Nakhon Chaisi Road, Bangkok, for interrogation. However, there is no confirmation from the authorities of where exactly is he being held.

The arrest warrant for Thanet was approved on 12 December. He faces charges under Article 112 (the lèse majesté law) and Article 116 (the sedition law) of the Criminal Code, and the 2007 Computer Crime Act.

The young activist was charged with sharing an infographic about Rajabhakti Park which implicates Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, the junta leader and Prime Minister, and his wife in alleged corruption.  

The authorities also alleged that he joined the red shirt demonstrations in 2010 and posted online messages deemed to be defamation of the Thai monarchy.

The activist could be imprisoned for up to 27 years if found guilty.