Human rights defenders summoned after observing anti-draft charter activity

Human rights defenders and students activists have been summoned for allegedly conspiring with an anti-junta activist, who is currently on a hunger strike, to host a seminar criticising the junta-sponsored draft constitution. The human rights defenders insist they merely monitored the seminar. 

On Thursday, 18 August, Thai Lawyer for Human Rights (TLHR) revealed that the police in the northeastern province of Khon Kaen have issued a summons for six people to hear accusations that they violated an order of the junta’s National Council for Peace and Order. 

The six include two TLHR staff and Jatuphat Boonpattaraksa aka ‘Phai’, a pro-democracy activist who has been staging a hunger strike in jail since 6 August. The summons states that the six must report in on 18 August. 

The accusation is related to a public discussion on the junta-sponsored draft charter held on 31 July at Khon Kaen University. The six were accused of organizing the seminar. 

The two summoned TLHR staff are Duangthip Khanrit and Niranut Niamsap. The rest are two student activists from Khon Kaen University (Chatmongkhon Chanchiawchan and Narongrit Uppachan) and  a local activist (Natthapon Athan). 

The police has agreed to postpone the date of the summons to 31 August because Jatuphat is currently in jail and the other five only learned about the summons on 18 August. 

According to TLHR, Natthapon, Duangthip and Niranut merely monitored the 31 July seminar and have no involvement with the organization team. As for the two TLHR staff, the TLHR stated that they clearly identified themselves with name tags while observing the activities, and identified themselves as observers with the authorities who were in charge of keeping law and order at the venue. 

The TLHR condemned the summons as an obvious intimidation against human rights defenders.  

Jatuphat Boonpattaraksa, better known as Phai Dao Din, is an activist from Doa Din, the group of student activists based in Khon Kaen. Apart from campaigns against dictatorship which the group has incessantly held since the coup in May 2014, Dao Din is renown for its works on community rights and environmental issues. Jatuphat was arrested on 6 August for distributing flyers campaigning for ‘Vote No’ in the draft charter referendum. He started a hunger strike on the same day he was arrested.