Following the arrest of human rights lawyer Anon Nampa and student activist Panupong Jadnok earlier today, Amnesty International called on the Thai authorities to drop charges against the pair and to end the crackdown on freedom of expression as well as ensure the safety of those involved in protests.
Responding to the arrest of two prominent activists today, and reports of further arrest warrants against other protestors, ahead of planned anti-government protests over the weekend, Piyanut Kotsan, Amnesty International Thailand’s director, said:
“This is yet another entirely disproportionate response from the Thai police to peaceful activism, clearly intended to intimidate and dissuade protestors from taking to the streets this weekend.
“Having endured months of harassment, Arnon Nampa and Panupong Jadnok now face a repressive new set of criminal charges simply for exercising their right to protest.
“As well as dropping these groundless charges, Amnesty International is calling on the Thai authorities to stop what appears to be a new crackdown on freedom of expression and to ensure the protection, safety and security from reprisals of any individuals whose names have been linked to ongoing demonstrations over the past week.”
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On Friday 7 August, police arrested lawyer Arnon Nampa in front of his residence in Thailand’s capital Bangkok, and student activist Panupong “Mike” Jadnok at Ramkhamhaeng University. The two are currently being held at Bangkok Criminal Court. Another student activist Parit Chiwarak, member of the Student Union of Thailand, also has an arrest warrant against him.
Arnon and Panupong face up to seven years in prison. Charges against them include sedition, assembly intended to do act of violence, and obstructing the public way under Articles 116, 215, 385 of the Penal Code, respectively; violation of the Emergency Decree; offence under the Communicable Diseases Act; obstructing the traffic under Article 114 of the Land Traffic Act; Article 19 of the Maintenance of the Cleanliness and Orderliness Act; and the use of an amplifier without permission under Article 4 of the Controlling Public Advertisement by Sound Amplifier Act. Reports indicate that five other demonstrators have pending warrants with the same charges. Since the imposition of the Emergency Decree on 26 March 2020, officials have continuously detained and initiated criminal complaints against individuals engaged in peaceful protests and activities. Demonstrators have also reported numerous incidents of harassment and intimidation by police officers solely for their involvement in peaceful protests since then, including ongoing student-led peaceful demonstrations calling for a new constitution, resignation of the government, and an end to harassment of the police opposition.
Amnesty International calls on the Thai government to guarantee that its law enforcement arm avoids the use of force as far as possible and adhere to non-violent means.