Regular protest-goer Worawan Sae-aung has been found guilty of violating the Emergency Decree and indecent exposure for stripping in front of a line of crowd control police at a protest on 28 September 2021 to protest the use of violence to disperse protests. She received a total fine of 34,000 baht.
Worawan stripping in front of a line of crowd control police to protest the use of violence to disperse of the protest (Photo by Thikamporn Tamtiang)
Worawan, or “Auntie Pao,” a 68-year-old fruit vendor who regularly attends protests and is known for her sharp tongue, was charged with violation of the Emergency Decree and committing a shameful act by indecently exposing her person under Section 388 of the Thai Criminal Code. The charges result from a protest on 28 September 2021 at the Nang Loeng intersection demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, during which Worawan took off her clothes, laid down on the ground, and opened her legs in front of a line of crowd control police in protest at their use of violence to disperse protests.
Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) reported that on Monday (13 March), the Dusit District Court found Worawan guilty of both charges, fining her 30,000 baht for violating the Emergency Decree and 4000 baht for public nudity.
During witness examination, Worawan testified that she was not an organizer of the protest, that she was there as a vendor and was a peaceful participant, and that the protest site was an open and well-ventilated area. She said that her stripping was a symbolic act of protest to prevent crowd control police from arresting protesters and therefore not shameful.
Nevertheless, the court found her guilty on the grounds that the protest was at risk of spreading Covid-19 as the area was crowded and traffic was blocked by protesters, who were not social distancing. It also ruled that she is guilty of indecent exposure because her stripping was a sexually inappropriate action, did not lead to solutions for the protesters’ demands, and did not encourage the exercise of democratic rights and freedom.
In Prachatai’s 2021 Person of the Year interview, Worawan said she was not embarrassed by being naked, and that she wanted to distract the police from arresting or assaulting protesters out of concern that they would be hurt. She also told reporters, after she was summoned to Nang Loeng Police Station to hear the charges, that her action represents the fight of people who have nothing but their bodies to fight against the crowd control police trying to disperse their protests.