Activists head northeast to demand release of ‘Pai Daodin’

Anti-junta activists and others have travelled from Bangkok to Khon Kaen to campaign for the release of an anti-junta activist accused of lèse majesté.

On 12 January 2016, members of Resistant Citizens, an anti-junta activist group led by Sirawit Serithiwat, gathered at Hua Lamphong Train Station, Bangkok to take a trip to Khon Kaen province in northeastern Thailand.

The trip is a part of the campaign to demand the release of Jatuphat ‘Pai’ Boonpattaraksa, the first person charged with lèse majesté under the reign of King Vajiralongkorn. He is currently detained in Khon Kaen’s prison.

The train left the station at 8:45 pm and is expected to arrive to Khon Kaen the next morning.

About 10 security officers in plainclothes were reportedly deployed at Hua Lamphong Train Station to take pictures of the activists while they were about to take the northeastern-bound train to Khon Kaen.

Paisan Chanpan, one of the participants of the campaign, said that he does not know Jatuphat personally but that he wants to offer symbolic support to the activist.

He said Jatuphat has done nothing wrong and that the court should release him.

When asked if he is afraid of authorities, he said, “What do I have to be afraid of? I’m not doing anything illegal. I bought the train ticket myself. I’m not going to sneak into the train for a free ride. How can taking a train to visit a brother and a friend be perceived as illegal?”

Jatuphat, one of the key members of New Democracy Movement (NDM), was arrested on 3 December 2016 only two days after King Rama X’s accession. He was accused of violating Article 112 of the Criminal Code for sharing on his Facebook account a controversial biography of the King published by BBC Thai.

At first, Khon Kaen Provincial Court granted Jatuphat bail after his arrest. However, the court revoked the bail on 22 December after he posted a satirical message mocking authorities on his Facebook account.

The message leading to the revocation read, “Economy is poor but they (authorities) took my money for bail.”