Volunteer protest guards sentenced to jail for collecting police razor wire

Members of the volunteer protest guard group We Volunteer have been sentenced to 20 days in prison and fined 6000 baht each for clearing razor wire left by the police at the Uruphong intersection following several protest marches in late 2020.

Members of We Volunteer being detained in a police truck surrounded by crowd control police after they were arrested while collecting razor wire on 7 December 2020 (Photo from Piyarat Chongtep)

Activist Piyarat Chongtep and 18 other members of the group went to the Uruphong intersection on the night of 7 December 2020 to clear away razor wire left there by the police after it was used to block protest marches passing through the area. The group said they received complaints from people in the neighbourhood, who said that the razor wire was left scattered around the area, making it hard for them to move about. A community member said that the wire was blocking the alleyway, and that the police refused to remove it despite complaints from the community.

While collecting the razor wire, they were surrounded by several units of crowd control police and were arrested. They were then charged with participating in an assembly of more than 10 people and causing public disorder, not dispersing after receiving an official order, and resisting an official.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) reported that on 24 March, the Criminal Court found the group guilty of participating in an assembly of more than 10 people and causing public disorder on the grounds that they were not responsible for collecting the razor wire and should have asked the responsible authorities to come and collect the wire, so the court ruled that they intended to hold an assembly and cause public disorder.

The group was given a prison sentence of 20 days, suspended for 2 years and were fined 6000 baht each. They also had to do 24 hours of community service and report to court 4 times per year for a year.

Piyarat, who is running as an MP candidate for the Move Forward Party, posted the verdict on his Facebook page, and said that the verdict does not affect his campaign because the prison sentence was suspended, and therefore does not disqualify him from running.

Piyarat also wrote that the charges he is facing for participating in the pro-democracy movement is a badge of honour for him and shows that he has the making of an MP, who must be a voice for the people and fight against injustice.


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