Second activist arrested for Chakri Day protest speech

Another activist has been arrested and charged with royal defamation for a speech given at the Chakri Memorial Day protest on 6 April 2022.

Mint leaving the court after she was granted bail (Photo by Ginger Cat)

Mint (pseudonym) was arrested on Tuesday evening (10 May). She said that she and other activists were eating at a restaurant on Chaeng Wattana after the protest at the US Embassy when around 10 police officers came to present an arrest warrant, leading her to speculate that the officers had been following her since the event at the Embassy.

She was taken to the Police Club on Vibhavadi Road, where she was detained overnight before being taken to court for a temporary detention request. According to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), Mint was charged with royal defamation, violation of the Computer Crimes Act, and using a sound amplifier without permission.

TLHR also reported that, according to the inquiry officer from Buppharam Police Station, three people are being charged for speeches given during the Chakri Memorial Day protest: Mint, student activist Sopon Surariddhidhamrong, and Joseph (pseudonym).

Joseph was arrested on Tuesday morning (10 May) and charged with royal defamation. He was later granted bail on a 200,000-baht security and was given the same conditions later given to Mint. TLHR said that his speech did not mention the current king, and that, in his testimony, Joseph said that several writers and academics have discussed the execution of King Taksin, such as Sulak Sivaraksa, Nidhi Eoseewong, and Sujit Wongthes. He also mentioned a previous court ruling that the royal defamation law does not cover former kings.

Sopon is currently held in pre-trial detention on another royal defamation charge resulting from a speech he gave at a protest on 22 April 2022. He was arrested on 1 May and subsequently denied bail. TLHR said that the police will visit Sopon in prison next week to notify him of the charges.

The inquiry officer said that Mint was charged for her speech, in which she said that King Taksin was not beaten to death with a sandalwood club or allowed to enter monkhood as history books have it, but was beheaded on order from King Phutthayotfa Chulalok, who ascended the throne as the first monarch in the Chakri dynasty after he seized power in 1782. She also spoke about the creation of the Equestrian Statue of King Chulalongkorn.

On Wednesday (11 May), Mint was granted bail by the Thonburi Provincial Court on a 200,00-baht security. The Court gave her the conditions that she must not participate in activities which are damaging to the monarchy or cause public disorder, and prohibited her from leaving the country.

Mint, Joseph, and Sopon are among 194 people currently facing royal defamation charges for participating in pro-democracy protests in 209 cases. Of this number, 43 cases are related to speeches given at protests.

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