Police seize booklets on monarchy reform, harass would-be protestors

Police stopped the vehicles of students transporting equipment and booklets to the protest at Thammasat University’s Tha Prachan campus ahead of the afternoon’s protest.

Two of the police officers who stopped the students

Student activist Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak went live on Facebook at 10.40 on Saturday (19 September) as a group of police officers from Khlong Luang Police Station stopped the car transporting equipment and 50,000 copies of a booklet containing the transcription of the speeches on monarchy reform given at the 10 August demonstration at Thammasat University’s Rangsit campus which were to be given out at the protest on Saturday afternoon.

The police claimed that the content of the booklet is illegal and an attempt to overthrow the government and told the students that they will be taken to the police station if they do not cooperate. They also claimed that the operation is due to reasons of national security.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) reported that the five students sat with their arms linked together as police officers tried to bring them along with their car and the booklets to Khlong Luang Police Station.

The students tried to negotiate with the police, telling them to take only one pack of booklets for inspection, and that they can come confiscate the booklets at the protest later if they find anything illegal, but the police insisted on taking the car, claiming that there are other objects in the car. 

The police then transferred the booklets to their car, and took the students with them to the police station. As officers took the booklets, the students said “We are not willing, but we have to surrender to force. The officers are all over the soi where our dorm is.” 

At 15.25, TLHR reported that the police had confiscated the booklets, claiming that the content could be considered an insult to the monarchy. However, the students also gave testimony to add to the police’s confiscation record that there has been no court ruling that the booklets are banned or that it is illegal to own them.   

In addition, Parit also posted on his Facebook page that four other students have been arrested on sedition charges, two of whom were scheduled to take the stage at Saturday’s protest. However, TLHR said that the police spokesperson insisted that there was no arrest. 

There were also reports of protesters traveling to Bangkok from northern provinces such as Lamphun and Phayao being stopped at police checkpoints last night (18 September) and having their ID cards photographed by officers. Police officers in Srisaket also attempted to follow protesters traveling to join the protest in Bangkok, telling them that if the protesters don’t let them ride on the same vehicle, they will follow them.

Meanwhile, Parit posted last night (18 September) that a traditional drum teacher from Chiang Mai and his students who were previously scheduled to perform at the protest can no longer come to Bangkok after they were visited by police officers who asked them not to join the protest.