Activists petition UN after attack

Two activists who were attacked last week filed a petition with UN representatives on Thursday (3 November) calling for the UN to pressure the Thai authorities into investigating the attacks, after no progress was made by the police.

Activists filing their petition with UN representatives

“Oia,” a 13-year-old protester, said that he was attacked on 22 October near the Chitralada Royal Villa. He said that while he was on a motorcycle waiting at a red light at Ratchawithi intersection, a group of men on motorcycles rode toward him and stared at him. He felt unsafe, and so rode his motorcycle towards the palace, because there were likely to be officers stationed there.

 

The men then surrounded him, threatened him with a knife and punched his face. Oia said he noticed that all of the men were carrying firearms. He also said that he saw police officers stationed in front of the Chitralada Royal Villa, but that they did not help him.

On 25 October, Oia went to file a complaint with Dusit Police Station over the attack.

Meanwhile, activist Tanruthai Thaenrut, 22, a member of the indigenous rights group the Save Bang Kloi Coalition, said that the clutch cable on her motorcycle was tampered with, causing an accident.

Tanruthai said that on 21 October, she met other activists at the McDonald’s next to the Democracy Monument. When she arrived, she was told by a nearby crowd control police officer to park her motorcycle inside nearby Satriwithaya School, claiming that the road had to be cleared for an upcoming royal motorcade.

Afterwards, Tanruthai said she went to retrieve her motorcycle from inside the school, and rode pillion behind another activist towards Krung Thon Bridge. While on the road, the two activists found that they could not change gear and the motorcycle was acting strangely. It then skidded, throwing the two riders onto a busy road. Tanruthai said that her head hit the ground, but she was wearing a helmet; her friend had minor cuts and bruises on their legs.

The two activists then found that the clutch cable, which Tanruthai said had been changed on 17 October, was damaged, which is probably the reason why the wheel locked, leading to the accident. It seems like there was an attempt to pull the cable out but not to cut it because then the motorcycle’s engine would not start. Tanruthai’s friend said that they went back to ask the police stationed near Satriwithaya School if anyone had gone near the motorcycle, but the officer said they did not do it.

Tanruthai speculated that the damage happened while the motorcycle was parked at Satriwithaya School, since the vehicle was functioning normally until then. She said that she has never been in conflict with anyone, and is concerned that she being targeted because of her activism, noting that the brake cable on her motorcycle was also cut two months ago, so she had to change her motorcycle and check it every time she used it. 

Tunruthai and Oia, along with Save Bang Kloi Coalition activist Anchalee Ismanyee, met UN representatives on Thursday (3 November). Anchalee said that the group wanted to petition the UN to protect the two activists and to pressure the Thai authorities to make progress in both cases, especially for Oia, who is a minor and a victim of physical assault.

Anchalee Ismanyee (Photo from The Reporters)

Anchalee said that even though there is no evidence to identity the perpetrators, she speculated that state officials may be involved, since both activists regularly join protests and have said that they have been under police surveillance.

The two activitists have also filed a complaint with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). Anchalee said that the NHRC has accepted their complaint, and has expressed concerns especially for Oia. She also said that she is concerned about the 13-year-old’s mental health. 

Anchalee said following the meeting that the UN representatives said they will be contacting the NHRC to find out whether the commission has contacted the local police stations. If not, they will be following up on the case themselves. 

The representatives also told the activists that, if they still feel unsafe, they can also contacted the Cross-Cultural Foundation, who would help them contact the UN office in Geneva, Switzerland. The UN may then contact the Thai authorities if there is a cause for concern. 

She said that they feel safer after being able to discuss the attack with UN representatives and human rights officers, who show their concerns and paid attention to the activists' complaint.  

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