Officers from Rattanathibet Police Station and the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD) raided the office of Same Sky Books, a publisher known for its works on Thai politics, yesterday (20 January 2022) and seized its editor’s computer and mobile phone.
Police officers raiding Same Sky Books' office (Picture from Same Sky Books)
The publisher posted on its Facebook page that around 30 officers came to its office at around 11.00 on 20 January 2022 to search for a book titled “The Monarchy and Thai Society,” written by human rights lawyer and activist Anon Nampa.
The search warrant stated that the officers were allowed to confiscate mobile phones, computers, and electronic devices belonging to Thanapol Eawsakul, Same Sky Books’ editor-in-chief, and co-founder Jiraporn Hirunburana. Another warrant from the TCSD gave officers the permission to access data in Thanapol’s mobile phones, including his social media profiles, photos, and location data.
Even though the officers were not able to find the book, which the publisher said it is not selling, the officers insisted on confiscating Thanapol’s electronic devices, claiming that they have to investigate the data.
“The Monarchy and Thai Society” is a transcript of Anon’s speech on monarchy reform, given at the 3 August 2020 protest at the Democracy Monument. It was first distributed by the student activist group United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration (UFTD) during the 10 August 2020 protest at Thammasat University’s Rangsit campus.
This is the second time the publisher’s office has been searched for copies of the book. On 20 March 2021, ahead of a protest at Sanam Luang, officers from Rattanathibet Police Station and the TCSD raided Same Sky Books’ office and confiscated 179 copies of the book. The search recorded stated that the books were not being sold by the publisher, but that Same Sky was storing them for someone else. Following the raid, the pdf of the book was released for free download on the artist network Free Art’s Facebook page.
Throughout the past week, numerous activists and journalists have reported being visited or followed by police officers, and that their family members were questioned for information about them and their activities. Those who faced such surveillance included student activists in Chonburi, as well as citizen journalists who covered the Din Daeng protests, among others.
On the same day of the raid on Same Sky Books, police also went to the office of the activist group Democracy Restoration group (DRG), but no one was there at the time, and it was unknown why the police wanted to search their office.
The police then went to the residence of a DRG member and arrested them on a sedition charge and a Computer Crimes charge for posting on the DRG Facebook page inviting people to join protests on 18 July 2021 and 7 August 2021. They were taken to the TCSD headquarters and were later granted bail on a 35,000-baht security.