A group of people claiming to be government officials and people ‘with the duty of suppression and control regarding the institution of the monarchy’ stormed a student’s home in Phetchabun Province to force her to apologize for alleged royal defamation.
Photos of the incident in which a man can be seen wearing a DOPA uniform vest. (Source: Free Phetchabun)
According to the Free Phetchabun Facebook page on 19 May, a group of vigilantes came to a vocational student’s house, saying they were from the Department of Provincial Administration, (DOPA) to charge her with royal defamation. They showed no warrants and did not announce to the suspect her formal rights.
Photographs taken at the scene show at least one man wearing a DOPA uniform.
The group said that the student had posted video clips about the monarchy that they claimed were inappropriate.
The group came prepared with a portrait of the King Rama X, which the student was forced to apologize to. The action was filmed and posted on Facebook but later deleted.
On the evening of 19 May, the Free Phetchabun group took the student to the police to file a report. The group also denounced the forceful act as unlawful 'vigilantism'.
"We want to use the space here to warn you that your actions do not exalt in any way the institution that you have faith in or respect, but completely destroy the main institution,"
"We ask your group to stop actions like these for the sake of good relations between the people and the institution [of the monarchy]."
Signs of pro-monarchy vigilantism have increased in 2021 in response to the massive pro-democracy movement which has been calling for political and monarchy reform since 2020.
The monarchy is now discussed in a more straightforward manner than in the past where, people usually had to resort to a form of Doublespeak to avoid legal repercussions.
Vigilante groups appear to monitor social media for content that they claim is disrespectful to the monarchy, identify the person responsible and go to their home en masse to force an apology on camera.
In April 2021, a group of right-wing thugs calling themselves the Ong Dam Warriors went to a man’s home in Rayong province to conduct a “discipline operation” to end criticism of the Thai monarchy.
With help from the community leader, the victim was taken to meet 4-5 men in black uniforms, who asked him to confess to his actions and make a public apology. Then they took him to prostrate himself in front of a portrait of King Rama X to ask for royal forgiveness and make an oath not to do it again.
After they completed the operation, they posted everything they did on Facebook with the man's face pixelated.
Ong Dam Warriors take Tum to prostate himself in front of a portrait of King Vajiralongkorn.
Source: Ong Dam Warriors' FB page
Ong Dam was a nickname of King Naresuan, who waged a war for Ayutthaya’s independence against Burmese rule in the region which later became Thailand. According to the mainstream historical narrative, King Naresuan was a national war hero. However, the Ong Dam Warrior’s Facebook page says they reject all forms of violence. Their mission is to protect “nation, religions, and the king” by using a nonviolent approach.