Activists indicted for 2015 anti-junta protest

After 7 years, the public prosecutor has decided to indict activists from the New Democracy Movement (NDM) and the Dao Din group on charges of sedition for an anti-junta protest in front of Pathumwan Police Station on 24 June 2015.

The activists gathered on 22 May 2019 after they reported to the police to hear their charges, holding signs with anti-junta messages. (Photo from TLHR)

According to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), Maj Gen Burin Thongprapai, then legal officer of the junta's National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), filed charges against 16 activists for the 24 June 2015 protest, which took place after a group of student activists went to hear the charges against them resulting from a protest in front of the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC) on 22 May 2015, the 1st anniversary of the 2014 military coup.

The 22 May 2015 protest was forcibly dispersed 5 minutes before its scheduled starting time. 37 people were then detained at Pathumwan Police Station, but were not charged and released the next morning. 9 student activists were charged at a later date.

On 24 June 2015, a group of student activists facing charges for the 22 May 2015 protest went to Pathumwan Police Station to file a complaint against the officers for using force to disperse of the gathering, and refused to report to the police to hear their charges as a gesture of defiance against the NCPO’s authority. Others also joined the protest, along with 7 student activists from the Dao Din group who came to Bangkok from Khon Kaen to show support for their fellow activists.

However, Pathumwan police refused to let the students into the station to file their complaint, so they set up a stage and gave speeches, played music, and read out poems, before the student activists were allowed to enter the police station in the evening.

On 22 May 2019, 13 activists were summoned to report to the police on charges of sedition and joining an assembly of 10 or more people and causing a breach of public peace resulting from the 24 June 2015 protest. The police claimed that the speeches criticizing the NCPO’s human rights violations and calling on the public to join anti-junta protests were seditious.

A total of 17 people were charged for participating in the 24 June 2015 protest, including activists Jatupat Boonpattaraksa and Chonticha Jaengrew, activist-turned-Move Forward Party MP Rangsiman Rome, and Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, leader of the now-dissolved Future Forward Party.

The police also accused the activists of trying to flee. They claimed that, after the 24 June 2015 protest concluded, the authorities were preparing to arrest the activists, but 7 activists, including Rangsiman, were taken away in a van which the police said Thanathorn was sitting inside, while other activists left in separate vehicles.

TLHR said yesterday (4 August) that the public prosecutor decided to indict 10 of the activists 7 years after the protest and 3 years after the charges were filed. They were later granted bail using a security of 70,000 baht each.

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