Protest for detained student activist Pai Dao Din

In the presence of dozens of soldiers and police officers, people gathered yesterday evening in central Bangkok to show solidarity with an embattled anti-junta activist held in custody for lèse majesté.

At 5 pm on 18 January 2017, about 50 people — many of them members of the anti-junta activist groups New Democracy Movement (NDM) and Resistant Citizen — gathered on the skywalk above Ratchaprasong Intersection in Bangkok.

The group gathered to show symbolic support and to demand the release of Jatuphat ‘Pai’ Boonpattararaksa, a key member of the New Democracy Movement (NDM) and the first person charged with lèse majesté under the reign of King Vajiralongkorn.

About 100 police officers and soldiers, both in plain clothes and uniform, were reportedly deployed at the venue to monitor the event.

Rangsiman Rome, another leading NDM member, said that the event was organised spontaneously to voice the opinions of many people who disagree with the arbitrary and illegitimate use of the law against Jatuphat.  

Jatuphat is 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.

Sirawit Serithiwat, another pro-democracy activist, said that Jatuphat is still innocent before the law as he is merely suspected of violating Article 112. As such, the court should have granted him bail.  

Anusorn Unno, Dean of the Sociology and Anthropology Faculty of Thammasat University, who came to observe the event, told Prachatai that the BBC article deemed defamatory to the Thai Monarchy was shared by over 2,000 people.

“Why is it that only Pai [Jatuphat] was arrested and denied bail?” the academic asked.

After the event ended, the organisers of the event were fined 100 baht by the authorities for using an amplifier without permission.