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A group of activists staged a protest in Bangkok’s Siam shopping district to demand the release of 15-year-old Thanalop, who has been held in pre-trial detention on a royal defamation charge for the past week.

An activist holding a poster with a picture of Thanalop and information about her arrest during Sunday's protest (Photo by Ginger Cat)

Thanalop was arrested on 28 March when she went to the Royal Palace Police Station after another activist was arrested for spray-painting graffiti calling for the repeal of the royal defamation law onto the wall of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha within the Grand Palace. She had previously received a summons, but despite asking the police to postpone her appointment to 9 April as she has an examination, an arrest warrant was issued for her regardless.

During her arrest, 8 male officers sat on top of her and reached into her clothes to search her, Thanalop told Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR). She said that they touched her legs and her chest and confiscated her iPad, which she kept inside her shirt, before dragging her into an interrogation room.

The activist group Thaluwang also said that the police held Thanalop on the ground and took her belongings even though other activists who were at the police station told them that they have to inform her of her charges and make an arrest record before doing anything else. They also searched her even though the activists told them to wait for a social worker and a lawyer to arrive before searching her, as she is a minor and searching her without a social worker and a legal counsellor would not be lawful and violate children’s rights.

A friend of Thanalop took a video clip of Thanalop’s arrest, but was forced by the officers to delete the video. An officer forcibly took the phone from the friend, breaking their nails.

During Sunday's protest, activist Anna Annanon sat in a cage in the middle of the Siam walking street and poured red paint over herself. (Photo by Ginger Cat)

After Thanalop was informed that she was being arrested on a royal defamation charge, she requested that the police returned her iPad, because the police claimed they had confiscated it because she was being arrested on a different charge under the Computer Crimes Act , but the police refused.

She then decided to press charges against the officers for theft, misconduct, and assault. Officers at Royal Palace Police Station refused to take her complaint, but eventually returned her belongings.

Thanalop denounced the judicial process as being unfair and unlawful, and refused to take part in it. She would not sign any document or appoint a lawyer, and was later charged with refusing to follow an officer’s order, because she refused to be fingerprinted. When she was taken to court the next morning, she was carried into the courtroom, where she sat with her back to the judge as an act of protest.

The Central Juvenile and Family Court then ordered her to be immediately detained at the Ban Pranee Juvenile Vocational Training Centre for Girls in Nakhon Pathom for 30 days, making her the youngest person to be charged and held in pre-trial detention for royal defamation.

The activist group Mok Luang Rim Nam said on 30 March that activist Sopon Surariddhidhamrong went to see Thanalop at the Juvenile Centre to discuss issues with her school application. She told Sopon that she was verbally abused by officers who drove her from the court to the Centre, and that they insulted her by asking her how much she is being paid for her activism and for wearing a t-shirt calling for the repeal of the royal defamation law.

Anna lying inside the cage and writing the number '112,' the section number for royal defamation in the Thai Criminal Code, on the ground. (Photo by Ginger Cat)

At around 17.30 on Sunday (2 April), activist Anna Annanon staged a protest at the Siam walking street in Bangkok’s downtown shopping district. Wearing a school uniform and with tape over her mouth, Anna sat inside a cage and pour red paint over herself, while other activists handed out pamphlets with information about Thanalop and the royal defamation law. They also scattered the pamphlets from the second floor of the nearby Siam Square One shopping mall.

An activist handing out pamphlets about Thanalop to passers-by during Sunday's protest. (Photo by Ginger Cat)

Although Thanalop was allowed visitors on 31 March, the Juvenile Centre refused to let lawyers see her on Monday (3 April). An officer at the Centre said that its Director prohibited visitors from seeing Thanalop, claiming that now that someone has spoken to her about her school applications there is nothing else to discuss with her. They also said that lawyers will not be able to see her even if she appointed one as her legal counsellor.

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