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AI calls for urgent action against prosecution of Thai activists

Amnesty International (AI) has issued a call for an urgent action against prosecution of Thai political activists, inviting supporters to submit an appeal to the Thai government demanding that it drops all charges against protesters and end all effort to obstruct peaceful assemblies. The campaign will run until 21 October. 

A protester at the mass protest on 16 August holding up a placard, which says "To whom it may concern: Be civil. It's not that hard."

Thai authorities issued arrest warrants for 15 pro-democracy leaders and activists for their role in a mass gathering in Bangkok, Thailand’s capital, on 18 July 2020. 16 other protestors have been summoned and charged from the same incident. All 31 face serious allegations including sedition – this broadly worded and repressive law is often used by the government to silence critical voices. If convicted, each activist could face up to seven years in prison. This recent slew of arrests of peaceful demonstrators illustrates the authorities’ intensifying crackdown on freedom of expression and assembly.

AI calls on supporters to submit appeals to the Thai authorities in their own words or use the model letter provided on AI's website. 

Additional information

On 18 July 2020, 31 individuals, including several university students, had taken part in a peaceful demonstration at the Democracy Monument in Bangkok, Thailand’s capital, organized by a student-led movement Free Youth. The gathering attended by an estimated 2,400 protestors listed three demands to the Thai government: parliament dissolution and fresh elections, a new constitution, and an end to harassment against individuals.

Each of the activists face up to seven years in prison if convicted. All of them face charges that include: sedition, assembly intended to do act of violence, refusing to comply with an order of an official, obstructing the public way and committing an act of violence not amounting to bodily or mental harm to the other person under Articles 116, 215, 368, 385, and 391 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 authorities’ permission under Article 4 of the Controlling Public Advertisement by Sound Amplifier Act.

15 out of 31 individuals have an arrest warrants issued against them. To date, 13 activists out of 15 have been arrested and bailed out with 100,000 Thai baht (approx. USD 3,000) surety each, or with positions of professor or parliamentarian as a guarantee. Two individuals still face the risk of arrest. The 16 other protestors are facing the same allegations and are due to report themselves to the police at Samranrat station, Bangkok, on 28 August 2020.

One of those arrested on 7 August – lawyer Anon Nampa – was arrested again by police from Chanasongkram station on 19 August for his role in a Harry Potter-themed rally in Bangkok on 3 August, at which Arnon gave a speech calling for a reform of the Thai monarchy. He was later granted bail with conditions not to carry out the same alleged acts. The police later arrested Panupong Chadnok (Mike) and Arnon again, on 24 and 25 August respectively, for joining a different protest at Thammasat University, Pathum Thani province, on 10 August. In this case, the pair face serious charges including sedition and importing to the computer system information deemed a threat to national security.

Since the imposition of stringent measures under the Emergency Decree on 26 March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, tens of thousands of people – including university and high school students – have taken to the streets to voice their demands regarding social and political matters. Apart from the three main demands listed at the 18 July protest, many of these demonstrators call for a reform to education, gender equality, sexual and reproductive rights, justice for enforced disappearance cases, among other issues. After the Emergency Decree came into effect, the authorities have increasingly detained and initiated criminal complaints against individuals who engaged in peaceful protests and activities. Demonstrators have reported being subject to intensifying harassment and intimidation by local officers in recent months solely for their involvement in peaceful demonstrations.

PREFERRED LANGUAGE TO ADDRESS TARGET: English, Thai or your own language.

PLEASE TAKE ACTION AS SOON AS POSSIBLE UNTIL: 21 October 2020

Please check with the Amnesty office in your country if you wish to send appeals after the deadline.

NAME AND PREFFERED PRONOUN: [Enter Name] Arnon Nampa (he/him), Baramee Chairat (he/him), Cholathit Chotsawas (he/him), Dechathorn Bumrungmuang (he/him), Jakkatorn Daoyame (he/him), Jatupat Boonpattararaksa (he/him), Jirathita Thammarak (she/her), Jutatip Sirikhan (she/her), Karnnithi Limcharoen (he/him), Korakot Sangyenpan (he/him), Kritsana Kaigaew (he/him), Lanlana Suriyo (she/her), Nawat Liangwattana (he/him), Nattapong Phugaew (he/him), Nattawut Somboonsap (he/him), Netnapa Amnajsongserm (she/her), Panusaya Sittijirawattanakul (she/her), Panumas Singprom (he/him), Panupong Chadnok (he/him), Parit Chiwarak (he/him), Pimsiri Petchnamrob (she/her), Prachaya Surakamchornroj (he/him), Sirin Mungcharoen (she/her), Suwanna Tanlek (she/her), Taksakorn Musikrak (he/him), Tattep Ruangprapaikitseree (he/him), Thanachai Eu-ruecha (he/him), Thanayuth Na Ayutthaya (he/him), Thanee Sasom (he/him), Todsapon Sinsomboon (he/him), Yamaruddin Songsiri (he/him)