Activist detained for King’s birthday protest

An activist was arrested on Saturday night (30 July) and temporarily detained pending investigation on a royal defamation charge for speaking at a protest on 28 July to demand the release of detained activists.

Shinawat shaving his head during the 28 July protest (Photo by Ginger Cat)

Shinawat Chankrajang was arrested at around 18.20 on Saturday (30 July). Officers from Yannawa Police Station went to his home and presented an arrest warrant before taking him to the Narcotics Suppression Bureau on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road, despite the protest taking place in Yannawa Police Station's jurisdiction.

He was detained at the Narcotics Suppression Bureau for 2 nights before being taken to court on Monday morning (1 August) for a temporary detention request. Ahead of the hearing, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) reported that Shinawat refused to take part in the judicial process, and so did not allow his lawyer to object to the temporary detention request or post bail for him. The South Bangkok Criminal Court later approved the temporary detention request and ordered to have Shinawat detained for 12 days at the Bangkok Remand Prison while the police conduct an investigation.

Shinawat also released a statement questioning the neutrality of the court when ruling on a case of royal defamation, since it has declared itself to be an organization acting in the name of the King. Since the King is a party to the conflict in a royal defamation case, Shinawat declared that he refused to accept the authority of the court until it can prove itself to be neutral and not under the authority of the King.

Protesters standing in front of the South Bangkok Criminal Court on 28 July to demand the release of political prisoners. (Photo by Ginger Cat)

Shinawat was charged with royal defamation, violation of the Computer Crimes Act, and using a sound amplifier without permission for participating in a protest in front of the South Bangkok Criminal Court on 28 July, in which protesters stood for 1 hours and 12 minutes to demand the release of detained activists. Chinnawat and several other protesters also shaved their heads in front of a portrait of King Vajiralongkorn to call attention to the use of the royal defamation law against citizens without regard for human rights. They also performed a traditional curse ritual involving the burning of salt and chilli.

The complaint against him was filed on 29 July by the ultra-royalist group People’s Centre to Protect the Monarchy, which claimed that Chinnawat acted “inappropriately” in front of the King’s portrait, and that he gave a speech accusing the King of using judicial power to harass people.

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