6 Phitsanulok activists forcibly abducted in attempt to stop 9 Aug. protest

A protest on 9 August in Phitsanulok Province was interrupted as leading figures were  abducted by people claiming to be state agents, taken to their homes and asked to cancel the protest.

A chat published by the Student Union of Thailand saying that 3 organizers could not be contacted.

The Facebook page of the organizers, “Brave Phitsanulok not yielding to the dictator,” posted a statement on the same day that at 12.30, one of the organizers was visited by 6 people claiming to be state agents, along with her mother.

Her smartphone was seized and she was put into a van and taken to her home in a different district. One of the agents tried to convince her politely not to hold the event because the authorities were very concerned about the protest. Some people had filed a complaint that the protest was improper and would lead to a potential clash between 2 groups of people.

This agent attempted to apply psychological pressure by saying that Phitsanulok is the headquarters of the 3rd Army Area, responsible for the north of the country. Any activity that caused a threat to national security may have negative results.

The leaders of the sub-district administration and the village chief were waiting for her at her home. They tried to convince her not to organize any such event again. The conversation finished at 18.40. She was not charged with any offence.

She stated through the Facebook page that any further action will be made after consultation with lawyers and human rights activists. The Facebook page also reported that similar action was taken against 5 other leading figures in the protest.

The protest at Phitsanulok was nevertheless held, but with a small number of participants.

The abductions were first exposed on the Facebook page of the Student Union of Thailand (SUT) which reported that it was suddenly impossible to contact 3 of the organizers. A person claiming to be a Border Patrol Policeman informed the SUT that they were detained at the Chao Phraya Chakri Camp of the Border Patrol Police in Phitsanulok.

BBC Thai reported later that the Superintendent of Border Patrol Police Sub Division 31, Pol Col Wisanphong Soikunbodi, denied this.

Harassment against people who attended countrywide protests has increased significantly since the mass protest in Bangkok on 18 July. Thai Lawyers for Human Rights have reported that 5 out of at least 76 planned activities could not be held due to intervention by the authorities.

TLHR has observed various forms of pressure and intimidation against organizers to stop their activities such as house visits, forcing individuals to sign MOUs promising not to talk about the monarchy, applying pressure to families and schools, taking people to police stations without official warrants and publicly threatening protesters that their activities might constitute a violation of the law.

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