The number of people involved in recent protests who have been charged under Section 112 continues to rise as 31 people have now been summoned, one of whom is 16 years old. Meanwhile, the public prosecutor in Nakhon Phanom has issued a prosecution order in the case of a man accused of royal defamation for a Facebook post made in 2016.
A list of people facing charges under Section 112, as of 16 October. Those with the red "reported" sign have been to the relevant police stations to hear their charges.
Between 8 – 16 December, 14 more people involved with recent protests have received police summons to hear charges under Section 112, in addition to the 17 activists who received their summonses between 24 November – 8 December: Somyot Pruksakasemsuk, Akarapon Teebthaisong, Athapol Buapat, Suthini Jangpipatnawakit, Joseph (pseudonym), Korakot Saengyenpan, Sombat Tongyoi, Jatuporn Sae-ung, Chukiat Saengwong, Inthira Charoenpura, Sirapob Phumphuengphut, Natthathida Meewangpla and two others whose names are withheld.
A man named Isares (last name withheld) also reported to the provincial public prosecutor in Nakhon Phanom today (16 October) for charges under Section 112 and the Computer Crimes Act.
According to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), he is facing charges for a Facebook post he made on 14 October 2016, and was arrested while taking a train back to Nakhon Phanom after participating in the protest on 19 – 20 September 2020. He was detained for 1 night before being granted bail.
TLHR observed that Issares’ case is the first case in which Section 112 is used, before prime minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha issued a statement on 19 November 2020 that every law will be used against protesters and before the new set of Section 112 charges filed against protesters. It is likely that the public prosecutor issued a prosecution order following this trend.
Meanwhile, human rights lawyer and protest leader Anon Nampa has received summonses for additional Section 112 charges. As of 15 December, he now faces 7 counts.
One of the Section 112 charges filed against Anon is related to a letter to King Vajiralongkorn he posted on his Facebook page on 8 November, which called for the resignation of Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha and a new constitution, as well as for monarchy reform.
Anon posted the letter as protesters marched to the Grand Palace and put letters to the King in replica red post boxes in a symbolic gesture to send a message to the King. At the time, he was in Chiang Mai to hear a charge relating to one of his earlier speeches on monarchy reform.
Anon Nampa (picture from TLHR)
He is also charged with “entering into a computer system computer data which is an offence related to national security,” under Section 14 (3) of the 2017 Computer Crimes Act.
Several people who joined a protest at Silom Road on 29 October 2020 are also being charged under Section 112, one of whom is 16 years old. Another is Jatuporn Sae-ung, who was charged after she appeared in a parody fashion show at the protest in a pink traditional Thai dress and was greeted by the protesters chanting “long live your majesty,” which is seen as mocking the Queen.
Actor Inthira Charoenpura and volunteer medic Natthathida Meewangpla are also facing Section 112 charges, most likely for the protest in front of the 11th Infantry Regiment headquarters on 29 November. Inthira has been supporting the protests by donating food and equipment, as well as help with the activists’ fundraising effort, but she has never made any speeches.
Natthathida was previously charged with royal defamation under Section 112 in 2015, as well as an attempted terrorism charge. She was imprisoned for over three years for both charges before being granted bail in 2018.
One of the participants in the 10 December rally to petition the United Nations Human Rights Council to pressure the Thai government to repeal Section 112 bound and handcuffed herself in a symbolic action to protest against the law.
Supanut Boonsod, a lawyer from TLHR, said that Section 112 is once again being used to stop criticism of the monarchy, but the way the law is used has changed.
Supanut explained that previously, officers issued arrest warrants, and in most cases, those charged were denied bail, no matter how many times they filed a request. Almost all cases received jail sentences, and the accused often decided to confess after being denied bail for a long pre-trial period. After the 2014 coup, Section 112 cases were tried in military courts, so the sentences were even more severe.
After Gen Prayut claimed that the King had asked for no prosecutions under Section 112 out of “royal mercy”, Supanut said that most of the remaining cases were dismissed, granted bail, or the charge was changed to Section 112. But more sedition charges were seen under Section 116 of the Criminal Code and under the Computer Crimes Act, and the sentences were similar to those under Section 112.
Supanut said that after Gen Prayut said that every law would be used, Section 112 has once again been brought back. However, no arrest warrant has so far been issued. Instead, officials are issuing summonses. In the cases of those charged in relation to the protest at the German Embassy, for example, the inquiry officer did not take them to court for a temporary detention request when they went to Thungmahamek Police Station to hear their charges and they were all released. Whether the situation will be different when the cases get to court remains to be seen, but Supanut said that the purpose of using Section 112 is still to stop the movement and protests relating to the monarchy.