Civil servant arrested at son’s graduation on suspicion of involvement in Thai Federation movement

Officers from the Crime Suppression Division (CSD) and Pakkred Police Station have arrested a 56-year-old civil servant on suspicion of involvement in the Thai Federation movement.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) reported that Rani (last name withheld) was arrested at 14.10 on Thursday (11 April) and charged under Article 209 of the Criminal Code for being a member of a secret society and under Article 116, the sedition law, for ‘expressing to the public by words, writing, or any other means, anything which is not an act within the purpose of the Constitution or for expressing an honest opinion or criticism in order to cause the people to transgress the law of the country’.

Rani was arrested while assing through the checkpoint in front of the Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University to attend her son’s graduation ceremony. She was first taken to Pakkred Police Station to record the arrest before being sent to the CSD for interrogation. She denied all charges and was held at the CSD until a court hearing scheduled for Saturday (13 April) morning.

TLHR reported this afternoon (13 April) that Rani was released on bail after the court hearing at 9.00 this morning. 

TLHR reported that Rani was among a number of citizens under continuous surveillance. On 7 December 2018, soldiers in uniform and police officers came to her house and asked to search the property without presenting a search warrant but claiming authority under Section 44. However, she did not allow them to search the property since it was night time.

A photograph of the officers asking to search Rani's house in December 2018 (Source: TLHR)

Her harassment and arrest possibly came about because, on 5 December 2018, she wore a black t-shirt and went out to eat at the KFC at CentralPlaza Ramindra, even though her t-shirt did not have the Thai Federation symbol on it. At that time, around 5 plainclothes police officers came to speak to her and asked her to go with them, but she refused, telling them that they can talk to her there. She also asked to take pictures of the officers’ ID cards. She later told a friend of the incident and sent the pictures to the friend on Line. The pictures were later published on YouTube without her knowledge.

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On 2 April, plainclothes officers also arrested Thoedsak (last name withheld), another defendant in the Thai Federation case. Officers presented him with an arrest warrant and took him in a van from Phuket while he was working as a private chauffeur.