Protest guards sue police for wrongful arrest

Members of the We Volunteer protest guard group filed a lawsuit at the Civil Court on 26 August against the Thai police for wrongful arrest, after they were arrested on 7 December 2020 while clearing away razor wire left by the police at the Uruphong intersection.

During the night of 7 December 2020, the group went to the Uruphong Intersection to collect the razor wire left behind by the police following several protest marches, saying that they had received complaints from residents in the area that the razor wire made it hard for them to move about.

Before they went to the Uruphong intersection, the group asked on their Facebook page for the authorities to remove the razor wire, but no officers came, so they went to collect the razor wire. They live broadcast their action on Facebook to show that they had no bad intention. While they were collecting the wire, several units of crowd control police surrounded and arrested them. They were then charged with participating in an assembly of more than 10 people and causing public disorder, not dispersing an assembly after receiving an official order, and resisting an official.

According to the Human Rights Lawyers Alliance, who is assisting for the group in their lawsuit, the arrest was not lawful, as the police action was excessive and not proportional with the group’s action, and was wrongful as the group went to collect the razor wire with the intention of helping other citizens. They were not causing any disorder but were arrested by a large number of officers.

The lawyers also said that the group was arrested without a warrant and members of the group were assaulted. Pol Col Attawit Saisueb, Deputy Chief of Metropolitan Police Division 1, also threatened to charge them with theft, even though they were not stealing anything. The inquiry officer responsible for the case also did not collect enough evidence before filing the case with the public prosecutor, while the manner of the police operation combined with media interviews given by police officers after the arrest could cause the public to misunderstand that the group has broken the law.

The group is filing a lawsuit against the Royal Thai Police as the agency controlling the officers and demanding compensation since the police action caused them harm and exposed them to insult and hatred. The Civil Court has accepted their lawsuit.

We Volunteer leader Piyarat Chongthep said after the group filed the lawsuit that he would like the officers to follow the principles and procedures they had sworn to follow as police cadets and when they became officers, while Songtham, another group member, said that it is not right for the authorities to use disproportionate force in comparison to the people’s actions, and that the officers must be held accountable for everything they do, so they should think things through before they do anything. Group member Nattapong also said that he would like the officers to follow international principles and not to act according to their emotions. 

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