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Last week, a group of activists in Nakhon Ratchasima were surrounded by police officers and prevented from protesting during the royal motorcade of Princess Sirindhorn, who was visiting a nearby school.

Activists surrounded by plainclothes police while holding up protest signs

On Wednesday (9 November), the activist group Korat Movement went live on their Facebook page while they were holding protest signs saying “Free our friends” and “Person = person. Everyone is equal” while surrounded by a group of plainclothes police. The protest took place while Princess Sirindhorn, King Vajiralongkorn’s younger sister, was traveling to visit nearby Boonwattana School. The 15-minute video clip also showed the police trying to pull signs out of the activists’ hands.

“Paper,” a 15-year-old activist, said that the group went to the school with their protest signs, but they were followed by 2 – 3 plainclothes police who asked her and another friend to join two other members of the group waiting nearby. The officers also told them that the group would be taken to an area prepared for people to greet the Princess, but the activists told the police that they would not move.

As the royal motorcade was approaching, Paper said that the police tried to force the activists to move further away from the motorcade. Some of the activists in the group then held up their signs, and were told by the police to put them down since they have had the chance to display them. The activists refused, so the officers pulled their arms and pushed two activists, a 17-year-old and a 19-year-old, to make them put the signs down.

The activists were also initially told by the officers that one of their group members, named “Fa,” will be detained because she put up a sign saying “Going anywhere is a burden” in front of the hotel where Princess Sirindhorn was staying, but did not present a warrant or any evidence. However, the entire group was released after the royal motorcade had passed.

Paper also said that, while a member of the group was leaving their residence to run an errand, they were approached by a plainclothes officer. They were seen by another activist, who called the rest of the group. They went live on Facebook again, but were approached by a nearby traffic policeman who checked their drivers’ licenses and fined them before taking them to a nearby police station. They agreed to go to the police station and contacted a lawyer on the way there.

Once they arrived at the police station, the police tried to charge the activist accused of putting up a sign in front of the hotel with a violation of the Public Cleanliness Act, but they denied the charge. The police then made a record that the activists were brought to the police station before releasing them.

Paper also reported being harassed by the police. She said that since 6 November, while Princess Sirindhorn was visiting Nakhon Ratchasima, the activists had been followed by plainclothes officers and that officers were stationed near their homes. She also claimed CCTV cameras were put up near the house ahead of the Princess’ visit.

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