3 more activists accused of contempt of court for demanding Pai’s release

The authorities have accused three more youth activists of contempt of court for joining a peaceful gathering demanding Pai Dao Din’s release from prison.

On 20 March 2017, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights reported that the well-known anti-junta activist Sirawit ‘Ja New’ Serithiwat; Panupong Sritananuwat, an activist from the Dao Din group based at Khon Kaen University; and another law student who requested anonymity had received court notices.

The notices state that the three are accused of contempt of court for gathering in front of the court on 10 February 2017 to demand the release of Jatuphat ‘Pai’ Boonpattararaksa, a law student and key member of the New Democracy Movement (NDM).

At the gathering, the activists read statements from activist groups and poems to show solidarity with Jatuphat and called for his release.

Four other activists, most of whom are from the Dao Din group, have also been accused of contempt of court for participating in the same activity.

The court has ordered the activists to appear in court to hear the charges against them on 24 April 2017.

On 13 March 2017, the Khon Kaen Provincial Court rejected a 700,000 baht bail bid by Jatuphat, reasoning that the activist had mocked the authority of the state without fear of the law. He also faces other charges for previous anti-junta political activities.

It was the seventh time that Jatuphat’s family has asked the court to free the activist.

Jatuphat is accused of violating Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the lèse majesté law, for sharing on his Facebook account a controversial biography of King Vajiralongkorn published by BBC Thai. He is the first person to be arrested for lèse majesté under the reign of the new King.

Shortly after he was arrested on 3 December 2016, the court released him on bail. However, his bail was revoked on 22 December after he posted a satirical message mocking the authorities on his Facebook account. The message read, “Economy is poor but they (authorities) took my money for bail.”

Though more than 2,000 people shared the same article on Facebook, he was the only one arrested for lèse majesté.

A group of activist gather in front of Khon Kaen Provincial Court in their student uniforms on 10 February 2017 to demand for Pai Dao Din’s release (Photo from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights)