Three activists, one a 17 year old, were arrested on Tuesday night (28 December) for holding up banners with the message “abolish Section 112” at Wongwian Yai, where a crowd of people were waiting to see King Vajiralongkorn and his entourage.
The activists being dragged away by men in yellow shirts while shouting "Abolish Section 112"
A video clip of the incident shows the activists being surrounded by men wearing royal volunteer service yellow shirts and scarves. The men dragged them away, injuring them in the process.
Five activists were detained during the incident. Three - Sainam, Baipor, and Tawan (last names withheld) - were taken to the nearby Bupharam Police Station. Another two unidentified individuals were released.
A second video clip of the event shows a woman running up to the King’s vehicle as he was getting out of the car. She was immediately held back by guards.
According to Pol Lt Col Seksan Pa-taesang from Buphharam Police Station, the woman was sent to the Somdej Chao Phraya Institute of Psychiatry. When our reporter asked what charges are being filed against the three activists, he immediately hung up.
Tawan, 20, said that they arrived at Wongwian Yai around 16.00 and were planning to raise their banners when the royal motorcade reached the scene to communicate directly with the King. Although concerned that they might be attacked by royalists, she said that they still wanted to exercise their right to express their opinions.
Baipor said that they planned to stand on the footpath but while waiting, were approached by a plainclothes officer who appeared to recognise Sainam. According to Baipor, they told the officer that they were only holding banners and did not intend to cause harm. Unidentified men in yellow shirts then surrounded them. In footage of the incident, formally clad police officers receiving the royal motorcade took part in the arrest.
Tawan added that the men in yellow shirt surrounded them for around an hour. Once the Queen appeared, they lifted up their banner, but the men immediately pulled it down. She said that they were not planning to make noise, but when the men snatched their banners away, they began shouting “abolish Section 112.” They had earlier decided to do this if they were assaulted. The men dragged them away, putting their hands over the activists’ mouth and choking them in the process.
Tawan said that instead of being brought to a police station, they were taken into a nearby alley and made to wait there until the royal motorcade left. Angered by the treatment, the activists demanded to know what crime they were being charged with. Instead of answering, the officers ordered them to sit down and pushed them to the ground. Around 20.00, they were taken to the Buppharam Police Station.
According to Tawan, when the men sought to physically silence her by placing their hands over her mouth, they knocked her contact lenses out of position, pushing them deep inside her eyelids. She was later able to remove them but Sainam and Baipor both suffered injuries. Baipor was cut on the lips.
Asked about the woman who ran towards the King’s vehicle, Tawan said that she was not part of their group and that they never approached the royal entourage.
The activists were released a little after midnight. They were charged with causing a public commotion and failing to comply with police orders. Each received a 1000-baht fine. Following their release, they said that they were going to a hospital to make a record of their injuries and would by pressing charges against their assailants.
Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) reports that police released the other two activists as they were only taking pictures of the protest, not shouting or holding up banners.