Delivery rider accused of arson of a royal arch  released on bail

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) reported on Monday night that the police arrested Sitthichok Sethasavet, 25, a Foodpanda delivery rider accused of burning a royal arch at Ratchadamnoen Nok Avenue during the 18 July protest. He is accused of royal defamation and arson before released on bail on Tuesday.

Sitthichok gives media an interview after being released on 20 July.

After denying all charges, he was released on 20 July on bail of 100,000 baht. Sitthichok then spoke to the media, apologizing to other delivery riders who lost income because of what happened to him.

He hoped that the platform would find measures to compensate for the loss of income by promotions or increasing their income per trip.

Matichon reported that he was arrested by plainclothes police at his house in Rangsit on Monday night. Sitthichok was detained at Pratunam Chulalongkorn Police Station, then transferred briefly to Huaikwang Police Station before being moved to Nang Loeng Police Station which is responsible for the location of the incident.

It is worth noting that the Rangsit area is now under the 21.00-04.00 curfew from which only a few essential workers are exempt.  These include lawyers who have to contact investigating officers.

#abolish112 (#ยกเลิก112) and #saveSitthichok (#saveสิทธิโชค) trended on Twitter shortly after the arrest was made public.

Sitthichok’s arrest is related to the #banfoodpanda (#แบนfoodpanda) hashtag which trended on Sunday. A Twitter user mentioned the food delivery platform, saying its rider may have been involved in the arson attempt on a royal arch during the 18 July protest. Foodpanda responded by saying that it would look into the details and that the platform has a policy “against violence and all forms of terrorism.”

The comment angered many netizens for equating protestors with terrorists when the protesters faced violence from the police use of anti-protest measures. They criticized the platform’s stance which seemed to support authoritarianism and prejudice against its rider without any proper investigation. This led to users and restaurants themselves to call for a boycott of the Foodpanda service.

At some point during the boycott storm, users found that the mechanism to unregister a user account in the application had disappeared, leading to even more questions and dissatisfaction among users. The platform later blamed the disappearance of the unregister option on a systematic error.

Responding to public anger, Foodpanda published a letter apologizing for the disappointment that its message had caused among users and partners. The letter stated that the company is still carefully looking into the incident.

Khaosod reported that the boycott call has caused insecurity among Foodpanda riders who fear they will no longer receive any orders.

On 19 July, the Just Economy and Fair Labour Institute (JELI), along with its partner organizations including the Free Riders Union, the Worker's Union and the Labour Network for People's Rights, published a statement condemning Foodpanda Thailand for violating their workers’ right to freedom of political expression.

The statement reiterated that the 18 July protest was conducted peacefully in order to demand a quality mRNA vaccine for all. The statement also demanded that the company reconsider its decision and reinstate the rider and compensate them for loss of income.

"...the real act of terrorism is supporting this dictatorial regime in their decisions regarding vaccinations which only benefit the feudal-capitalist class and ignore the death and suffering of tens of thousands of people," stated the statement.

Source: 
prachatai.com/journal/2021/07/94053

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