Rayong student faces Emergency Decree charge over rally for missing activist

Rayong police have charged a 23-year-old student with violation of the Emergency Decree and the Public Assembly Act after he organized a “Who Ordered the Abduction of Wanchalearm?” rally. The student says he is going to fight the case and rejects all the charges.

The “Who Ordered the Abduction of Wanchalearm?” rally at Si Mueang Park on 14 June

On 16 June, 23-year-old Panupong Jadnok, a student at Ramkhamhaeng University, was charged as responsible for the Young Leaders group of Rayong with violating the 2008 Emergency Decree for organizing a “Who Ordered the Abduction of Wanchalearm?” rally and displaying a sign saying “Who Ordered the Abduction of Wanchalearm Satsaksit?” at Si Mueang Park on 14 June in a call for justice for Wanchalearm.

Panupong said police initially charged him only with violation of the Emergency Decree, but he was later also charged with violation of the Public Assembly Act, when the investigation found that he did not obtain permission to organize the gathering.

Panupong rejects all the accusations and confirmed that he will fight the case in court. He has asked for 15 days to write a clarification letter.

Panupong and 12 other Young Leaders of Rayong organized the rally marching around Sri Mueang Park for 40 minutes, carrying signs and with white ribbons tied around their wrists. He said the rally went smoothly and participants wore protective masks.

Panupong said he met Deputy Public Health Minister Satit Pitutacha during the rally. Satit said he doesn’t agree with whoever violated the law when Panupong asked him his opinion on the enforced disappearance.

With regard to Wanchalearm’s disappearance, Panupong said that as Wanchalearm was an activist, and Panupong and his team also have developed through activism, he sees a shared ideology between him and Wanchalearm. He also sees the equality of humanity and human rights that should be protected.

The Emergency Decree was initially imposed to control Covid-19, but Panupong said when the people speak out, the government uses the Emergency Decree to prosecute them. Panupong sees that it is being misused and he is campaigning using the hashtag #LiftTheEmergencyDecree (#ยกเลิกพ.ร.ก.ฉุกเฉิน)

Panupong said the next event will be organized on 24 June. There will be an exhibition on the 1932 Siamese Revolution. Leaders from seven provinces in the Eastern region will join the event under the name of Eastern Youth for Democracy. He is now consulting with his team on the location.

“Today I see as the beginning of a continuing fight and as the spark for many so that everyone sees that the Emergency Decree isn’t to control the disease but to deprive people of their rights and expression. I ask that my sacrifice is a wake-up call for everyone to protect their own rights. I ask everyone to be brave to do it for our country and I ask everyone to fight for our future. #LookingForCompanion #LiftTheEmergencyDecree.” Panupong posted on his personal Facebook page.

On 14 June, the เยาวชนปลดแอก Free YOUTH Facebook page posted that Tattep Ruangprapaikitseree, a recent political science graduate from Chulalongkorn University, reported receiving a summons from Wang Thong Lang Police Station for violating the Emergency Decree on the day he called for justice for Wanchalearm in front of the Cambodian Embassy.

Around 10 protestors calling for justice for Wanchalearm in front of the Cambodian Embassy have received summons for violating the Emergency Decree.

The Cross Cultural Foundation issued a statement stating, “the protests do not amount to an ‘assembly or gathering of persons…which may cause unrest,’ rather, they are legitimate and peaceful in nature, and concurrent with the principles of Human Rights Defenders. Therefore, the charges and summons filed can only be seen as an abuse of the power granted by the Decree to intimidate and deprive the rights of those who do not agree with the government.”