Over 20 protesters arrested following crackdown; protest leaders denied bail

After police dispersed the protest at Government House earlier this morning (15 October), over 20 protesters, including several protest leaders, have been arrested. 

Police officers in riot gears during this morning's protest crackdown

According to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), at least 27 known protesters have now been arrested after police invaded the protest site outside Government House and a severe state of emergency was declared this morning.

This includes protest leaders Anon Nampa, Prasit Karutarote, Parit Chiwarak, Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, and Nutchanon Pairoj, along with 22 others.

As of 14.50, 4 people have already been released, including photographer Karnt Thassanaphak, who was taken to the Border Patrol Police Region 1 headquarters, and 3 civilians who were taken to Chanasongkhram Police Station.

Karnt was arrested alongside Parit at around 04.30 while he and Parit were in his car with two other students at the Nang Loeng Intersection. He said that a group of officers surrounded the car and, after presenting the arrest warrant, took Parit and the two students away in a van. The officers then searched Karnt and his car, and escorted him to the Border Patrol Police Region 1 headquarters in his own car.

Anon Nampa speaking on the small stage before yesterday's mass protest. 

Anon and Prasit, who were arrested on charges relating to an earlier demonstration in Chiang Mai, were reportedly taken by police aircraft without their lawyer and were expected to be brought to Chiang Mai. TLHR said that onboard were 5 officers from Provincial Police Region 5, 2 pilots, 2 mechanics, and officers from the Crime Suppression Division.

At 15.00, they arrived at the Wing 41 air force base in Chiang Mai, but it is not clear where they will be taken next.

Parit, Panusaya, and Nutchanon were arrested on charges relating to a demonstration at Thammasat University and are still in custody.

Panusaya and Nutchanon were arrested at 08.45 at their accommodation in Khao San Road, after Panusaya read out the People’s Party statement on the crackdown at 07.00.

After being presented with an arrest warrant, Panusaya tore the warrant and she and Nutchanon sat down on the floor in an act of resistance. The officers then put them into wheelchairs and took them to the Border Patrol Police Region 1 headquarters.

18 other civilians are also still being detained at the same headquarters.  

There are reports that many protesters were arrested at the protest site at the Misakawan intersection they had left and were on their way to their accommodation near the area.

Contrary to reports from earlier in the day, student activist Panupong Jadnok has not been arrested.

Parit, Anon, Prasit, and Panusaya were charged with sedition, among other charges, while the other 18 people were charged with violating the Emergency Decree.

Lines of police officers at yesterday's protest

Under the severe state of emergency, gatherings of five or more people are banned and state officials may arrest people without first informing them of their charges. The order also bans the publication of information that “could create fear,” affect national security, or damage public morale.

The government claimed that the protesters “invited and incited illegal public assemblies in Bangkok” and that they intercepted a royal motorcade and committed actions that affect national security, and therefore “an urgent measure” is necessary to control the situation and “maintain peace and order.”

Tattep Ruangprapaikitseree, a leading member of the student activist group Free Youth and one of the few protest leaders still free, said that the situation is almost no different from a coup and called for people to join the protest at 16.00 at the Ratchaprasong intersection.

Ming Yu Hah, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Campaigns, also issued a statement saying that the “vague, drastic order” will lead to more unfair arrests, detentions, and prosecutions, and that the scale of the morning’s arrests “seems completely unjustified” as yesterday’s protest was “overwhelmingly peaceful.”

The statement also noted that the order was “clearly designed to stamp out dissent and sow fear in anyone who sympathizes with the protesters’ views,” and called for the immediate and unconditional release of the arrested protesters and for those arrested to have access to legal counsel.

“These arrests and sudden emergency measures, announced in the middle of the night, are just the latest escalation in Thailand’s current onslaught on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly,” said the statement.

“Instead of ruling by decree and mass arrests, the Thai authorities must reverse course. They must comply with their international obligations to respect the rights of anyone who simply wishes to peacefully speak their mind, on social media or in the streets.”

Charles Santiago, Malaysian MP and Chair of the ASEAN Parliamentarian for Human Rights (APHR), also said “This emergency decree issued by Thai authorities is nothing but an excuse to shut down the peaceful protests that have swept across the country in recent months. The thousands that have taken to the streets in Bangkok, and nationwide, have done so peacefully, and are fully entitled to raise concerns about the current state of democracy in Thailand.

“Instead of introducing measures to end the protests, and arresting its leaders, Thai authorities should listen to the concerns those demonstrating are raising. They might find that their suggestions could benefit the entire country, and not merely a select few, as Thailand’s politics has done for so long.”

Update: 

As of 19.10 on 15 October, the Chiang Mai Provincial Court has denied bail for Anon and Prasit. The court ruled their actions were seditious and may cause unrest, and that they may repeat the same actions if released. The inquiry officers also objected to them being granted bail. They have now been taken to the Chiang Mai Remand Prison in Mae Taeng District to be detained for 12 days.

Meanwhile, the Thanyaburi Provincial Court has also denied bail for Parit, Panusaya, and Nutchanok, ruling that the have repeated the same offenses which was deemed seditious many times. The inquiry officers also objected to them being granted bail.