Suranat Paenprasoet, a coordinator of the Active Youth network who joined the 14 October protest, has become the third person charged under Section 110 of the Criminal Code. He was seen on Phitsanulok Road when a royal motorcade passed through anti-dictatorship protesters.
Middle: Suranat Paenprasoet after being investigated by the police. Banners behind state "Save Suranat".
Suranat is a community activist in the Bangkok Noi and Bangkok Yai area. He planned to go himself to Dusit Police Station to hear the charges at 09.30 on 21 October after the charge was filed on 20 October, but the police went to his home earlier and took him to the police station.
Suranat spoke to the media before being taken to Border Patrol Police Region 1 Headquarters, a place designated by the severe emergency decree as a detention place for protesters. He said that he did not know that a royal motorcade was approaching and he had no intention of blocking it. He said he denied all the charges made by the police.
Suchat Paenprasoet, Suranat’s brother who was at the scene, said Suranat had no intention of blocking the motorcade. He tried to move away as soon as he realized that a motorcade was coming through but he was blocked and pushed by the people around him. Suranat also said “Don’t push, there is a royal motorcade”.
As he was being questioned by the police, many people, including students and young people, gathered in front of the police station to give him support. Chuwit Jantaros, Secretary General of the Child, Youth and Family Foundation, prayed “The answer is blowing in the wind” and led supporters in chanting “Save Suranat”.
Chuwit insists that Suranat never had any intention of overthrowing the monarchy as Suranat in the past engaged in activities mourning the death of King Rama IX. Many shed tears as Suranat was taken away from the police station.
Prior to Suranat, Ekkachai Hongkangwan and Boonkueanoon Paothong were charged with the same offence. Boonkueanoon was granted bail while Ekkachai was not.
What happened at the 14 October royal procession?
The incident took place at around 17.50 on Phitsanulok Road during the march by anti-dictatorship protesters from the Democracy Monument to Government House. The police had blocked the way, but some of the protesters, including the two accused, managed to make it through and were sandwiched by the police from behind.
As the main bulk of the protesters were negotiating with the police to open up a path, a royal motorcade passed by on Phitsanulok Road where there were police, anti-dictatorship protesters and some pro-monarchy people wearing yellow who were already there.
The Queen, representing King Rama X and accompanied by Prince Dipangkorn Rasmijoti, was on her way to offer robes to monks in kathin ceremonies (an annual Buddhist merit offering ceremony) at Wat Arun Ratchawararam (the Temple of the Dawn) and Wat Ratcha Orasaram. The motorcade passed protesters shouting and raising the 3-finger salute. One person also threw a bottle of water at the motorcade.
Ekkachai, Boonkueanoon and Suranat insist that they did not know about the arrival of the royal motorcade.
Questions raised over procession route
Many pro-monarchy social media channels saw the confrontation at the royal procession as an assault on and harassment of the royal family. The severe state of emergency in Bangkok that was announced on 15 October also referred to the incident as unlawful and a threat to national security.
The Thai Move Institute, a conservative and pro-monarchy online influencer, interviewed people wearing yellow who were there to greet the royal procession. One of them said he was informed from news sources that there would be a royal procession there. So he moved from Makkhawan bridge where another royal procession had already passed by.
He said he and 20 other like-minded people tried to block the protesters while shouting “long live the Queen”. Another interviewee said that he did not know who was in the procession.
News reporters who were there also gave their views of the incident. Pravit Rojanaphruk from Khaosod English stated that he was there reporting via Facebook live. According to his observation, he did not see anyone trying to stop the procession or hitting the vehicles.
Live footage (sound muted due to improper language) from Teeranai Charuvastra, another Khaosod English reporter, confirms Pravit’s observation that no announcements were made as the police formed up the blockade. Ekachai and Boonkueanoon can be seen raising 3 fingers but neither of them blocked or got close to the procession at all.
“And importantly, there was no announcement from the police at all that there would be a royal procession along Phitsanulok Road, in front of Government House which the first group of protesters had occupied so easily that Francis (Boonkueanoon) told me that it was so easy that it felt ‘fishy’,” stated Pravit on Facebook.
Noppakow Kongsuwan, another reporter from Khaosod Online who was reporting on the pedestrian bridge across Phitsanulok Road, which would normally be cleared of people if there was a royal procession, stated on his Facebook post that there were no announcements or attempts to clear the pedestrian bridge.
He also questioned why the royal motorcade travelled via this route where the main bulk of the protesters were. Even though all alternative routes like Ratchadamnoen Avenue were almost completely cleared of protesters, the police responsible for arranging the motorcade route still decided to use Phitsanulok Road.
“I raise the question with no intent to provoke, based on available facts which many media agencies reported or even from many video clips or many of those who were there. There is collective agreement that in this case “there was no blocking” at all,” stated Noppakow.