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25-year-old activist Bang-oen was arrested again yesterday (6 April) on a royal defamation charge filed against him in December 2022, while two other activists were also arrested for spray-painting protest messages onto the Democracy Monument and the Giant Swing.

From left: Sittichai, Noppasin, and Bang-oen

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) reported that Bang-oen was arrested at around 19.50 yesterday (6 April) by 10 officers from the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD) and the Metropolitan Police, led by chief of the Central Investigation Bureau Pol Col Jiraphop Phuridet, while at a gas station in Nonthaburi’s Bang Bua Thong district.

The 25-year-old was taken to the TCSD headquarters. His lawyer then learned that the police was told by an informant seeking monetary reward that Bang-oen would be at the gas station. He was charged with royal defamation and violation of the Computer Crimes Act for a post he made on his Facebook page containing a picture of the royal family on 15 March 2022.

The complaint against him was filed on 2 December 2022 by Anon Klinkaew, head of the ultra-royalist group People’s Centre to Protect the Monarchy, who has filed complaints against several monarchy reform advocates, including 15-year-old Thanalop.

Bang-oen was detained at the TCSD headquarters overnight before being taken to court for a temporary detention request today (7 April). He was later granted bail using a 90,000-baht security covered by the Will of the People bail fund.

Bang-oen, a political artist from Khon Kaen, was previously arrested on 28 March for spray-painting an anarchist symbol and the number 112 with a strike through it, signifying a protest against the royal defamation law, onto the wall of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, located within the Grand Palace. He was charged with damaging a historic site and vandalizing a wall in a public place and detained overnight before being granted bail on a 50,000-baht security.

TLHR noted that Bang-oen has never received a summons before being arrested, and that the arrest warrant was issued 2 days after he was arrested for spray-painting the wall of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. While he was being interrogated, the police presented a warrant from the Criminal Court, issued on 29 March, for access to his mobile phone, claiming that a request was made for technological information to be collected relating to the incident at the Emerald Buddha Temple, but Bang-oen refused to provide any password.

Earlier in 2023, Bang-oen was detained by police officers, who did not present any warrant or inform him of his rights, and taken to Muang Khon Kaen Police Station. TLHR said he was forced to delete pictures of his artwork from his Facebook page and that officers threatened him, saying that his work defames the monarchy and he can be arrested at any time. They also told him not to make art about the monarchy again.

Two other activists were also arrested earlier in the day. Noppasin Treelayapewat, 18, and Sittichai “Oil” (last name withheld) , were arrested at around 6.30 on arrest warrants issued by the Criminal Court for damaging registered historic sites and vandalizing a public place.

TLHR said that they were charged for spray-painting the number 112 with a strike through it onto the base of the Democracy Monument, and the message “Yok was charged with section 112 here,” onto the Giant Swing.

The message spray painted onto the Giant Swing refers to a protest on 13 October 2022, which led to a royal defamation charge against Thanalop, whose nickname is Yok, and her detention.

TLHR said that the two activists were initially taken to Samranrat Police Station, which is responsible for the charges against them, but were later separated. Noppasin was taken to Chalongkrung Police Station, while Sittichai was taken to Thung Song Hong Police Station. The police did not say why the two activists were being separated, while TLHR reported that Noppasin was initially handcuffed.

Officers from Phaya Thai, Dusit, and Din Daeng Police Stations also came to inform them of other charges while they were detained. They were charged with destruction of property and vandalising a public place for spray-painting protest symbols at several locations in central Bangkok.

Noppasin and Sittichai were detained overnight at Chalongkrung and Thung Song Hong police stations, respectively. They were taken to court today (7 April) for a temporary detention request, and were released after the court dismissed the detention request.

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