Prachatai reporter, citizen journalists on police watchlist

A list of activists and reporters being monitored by the police has been released, and it includes a Prachatai multimedia reporter and several other citizen journalists.

From right: Nattapong Malee, Suramet Noyubon, and Burapat Chanpratad

The document is marked ‘classified’ and contains a list of not only activists but also reporters who have been covering pro-democracy protests. The document also includes each person’s picture and personal information, such as their address and Facebook account, as well as a description of their activities.

Ratsadon News’ Nattapong Malee, Friends Talk’s Suramet Noyubon, and Prachatai’s Burapat Chanpratad, who are all included on the watchlist, went to the UN headquarters in Bangkok on Wednesday 13 July to meet David Murphy from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to discuss the law enforcement and police surveillance situation. Murphy received their complaints and gave them recommendations on what they could do, including notifying the National Human Rights Commission.

Burapat has produced a short documentary titled “The Sun Shines,” about activist Tantawan Tuatulanon and her campaign for monarchy reform. During the production, Burapat filmed Tantawan as she approached an area in Bangkok old town where a royal motorcade was scheduled to pass by, and interviewed her while she was waiting after being stopped at a checkpoint. Burapat believes that this incident is why he was put on the watchlist.

Meanwhile, Nattapong said that he has been running the Ratsadon News Facebook page for the past 2 years, and often covered the protests at Din Daeng intersection. On 13 September 2021, he was arrested while covering a protest at Din Daeng and charged with violation of the Emergency Decree for breaking curfew. He also noted that at least 6 citizen journalists are now facing charges for livestreaming protests, including 2 who are facing royal defamation charges.

Nattapong said that police officers often follow and photograph him while he is working in the field, and have also visited him at home. He said that putting him on a watchlist like this might obstruct his travel and is a violation of his rights and freedoms, so he would like to inform the OHCHR of the issue. 

Suramet also said that he has been the victim of police surveillance. Officers have been taking photos of his vehicle and its registration plate, and went to his family home to speak to his parents, accusing him of being involved in the protests. He observed that the watchlist was made after the 2021 – 2022 protests, when the authorities warned the mainstream media to take care when reporting the protesters’ demands.

Suramet mentioned that photojournalist Natthaphon Phanphongsanon was also included on the watchlist, but was not able to attend the meeting at the UN headquarters. He noted that Natthaphon was attacked in front of the McDonald’s near the Democracy Monument by several men reported to be members of an ultra-royalist group after going to photograph a protest on 23 April 2022, and that no progress has been made in the investigation into the attack.

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