9 activists were arrested during a protest at Samranrat Police Station on the afternoon of 10 May to demand the release of 15-year-old activist Thanalop Phalanchai.
A picture of Thanalop Phalanchai placed in front of a line of crowd control police during the protest at Samranrat Police Station. (Photo by Ginger Cat)
The protest took place after the police filed more charges against Thanalop, now detained pending trial on a royal defamation charge at the Ban Pranee Juvenile Vocational Training Centre for Girls in Nakhon Pathom.
Officers from Samranrat Police Station went to Ban Pranee to inform Thanalop of the charges without informing her guardian or lawyer. They also brought a woman who they claimed was a lawyer they had appointed for Thanalop.
The alleged lawyer brought by the police to Ban Pranee
Activist Anna Annanon, who was visiting Thanalop, livestreamed the officers' visit on Facebook. When she asked the officers if they had informed activist Sopon Surariddhidhamrong, Thanalop's guardian, that they were filing more charges against her, they said that they had told the "human rights lawyer."
Anna also asked the alleged lawyer for her name, but she refused to answer and threatened to file charges against Anna under the Personal Data Protection Act for livestreaming the officers' visit.
Anna said that she was visiting Thanalop with other activists and was about to leave but decided to stay when they saw officers from Samranrat Police Station arriving at Ban Pranee. She said that, in the end, the police left without seeing Thanalop.
An activist spraying red paint on the steps in front of Samranrat Police Station
Meanwhile, a protest took place at Samranrat Police Station. Activists threw red paint onto the police station building and onto the household spirit shrine in front of the building. They also demanded that Pol Col Thotsaphon Amphaiphiphatkun, superintendent of Samranrat Police Station, explain why officers visited Thanalop to notify her of her charges without notifying her guardian.
They also demanded the 15-year-old's release, saying that it is within the police and the court's power to release Thanalop so she can return to school.
Pol Maj Gen Nakarin Sukonthawit, commander of the Metropolitan Police Division 6, came to the police station and told the activists that the officers were only doing their job by informing Thanalop of further charges. He also insisted that Thanalop's parents file a bail request for her
An activist throws a smoke flare onto the steps in front of Samranrat Police Station (Photo by Ginger Cat)
After Pol Maj Gen Nakarin went inside the police station building, activists threw coloured smoke flares up the steps in front of the police station.
A small clash then occurred after activist Tantawan Tuatulanon went to the police station door to demand that a representative of the police come to speak to the media. The activists tried to push through the police barrier but were pushed out, and the glass door of the police station was broken during the clash.
Crowd control police block the door to the police station with shields during the clash
At around 18.55, several units of crowd control police in normal khaki uniforms arrived at the police station. 10 minutes later, they blocked the entrance to the police station with shields as the activists tried to go back up the steps.
Meanwhile, Tantawan continued to demand that Pol Col Thotsaphon come out to speak to them and said that the police had ruined Thanalop's future by detaining her and keeping her from going to school. Another protester also threw objects at the officers, starting another clash, during which officers pulled Tantawan inside the police station.
Activist Orawan Phuphong was also arrested while shouting at the officers for injuring her during the clash, after the police ordered them to leave the police station and crowd control police blocked the entrance to the police station.
A total of 9 activists were arrested: Sittichai Prasai, Natthaphon Lekyaem, Suttawee Soikham, Noppasin Treelayapewat, Thiraphat Pradapkaeo, Jirapas Koram, Ronnakorn Hangchaicharoen, Tantawan Tuatulanon, and Orawan Phuphong.
One of the arrested activists being held to the ground by police officers (Photo by Ginger Cat)
The activists were separated and moved from Samranrat Police Station to three other police stations. Sittichai, Natthaphon, and Suttawee were taken to Chalongkrung Police Station. Noppasin, Thiraphat, Jirapas, and Ronnakorn were taken to Lat Krabang Police Station. Tantawan and Orawan were taken to Thung Song Hong Police Station.
At around 21.00, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) said their lawyers had gone to the three police stations. At Lat Krabang Police Station, Noppasin and the three other activists told the lawyer they were beaten while being arrested.
Meanwhile, at Thung Song Hong Police Station, TLHR said that Tantawan and Orawan have been separated, with Tantawan being placed in a men's jail cell. In protest, they tied their bras around their own necks, and after officers took their bras from them, Orawan banged her head against the cell wall.
Tantawan told her lawyer that Pol Col Thotsaphon flashed his middle finger at the activists while they were detained, and that an officer named Siriphong Kongkaeo hit Orawan's hand with the keys to the jail cell and pulled Tantawan's head while threatening them.
TLHR reported that because the activists' phones were confiscated and the officers did not tell them on what charges they were being arrested, Orawan stripped naked as a form of civil disobedience, and that women crowd control officers took videos of Orawan while she was naked.
Police officers seize an activist by his neck during the clash (Photo by Ginger Cat)
At Chalongkrung Police Station, lawyers were not allowed to see the three activists detained there, claiming that they needed to wait for every detainee's lawyer to arrive. TLHR noted that it is a violation of the detainee's right, since they have the right to see their own lawyer and no law requires that lawyers have to wait as the police claimed.
Orawan Phuphong being carried by women police officers while being arrested. (Photo by Ginger Cat)
TLHR said that Tantawan and Orawan sustained minor injuries while being arrested. Tantawan has cuts and bruises on her hands from being dragged inside Samranrat Police Station, while Orawan has bruises on her legs from being forced inside a police car, as well as cuts on her hands and bruises on her neck from tying herself to the cell bars using her bra.
MFP candidates, Commonner Party demand justice
Following the arrest of the 9 activists, Move Forward Party (MFP) MP candidate Rangsiman Rome posted on his Facebook page condemning the police's action demanding the release of Thanalop and the 9 activists.
Rangsiman asked if the police still like using excessive force against the people and exercising their powers unlawfully. He noted that, although he has spoken in parliament several times about welfare for low ranking officers and will continue to call for their rights, he will not help them if their action are illegitimate and done against the people, and that they will have to face the consequence of their actions.
He also promised that, no matter if MFP gets to part of the government, he will investigate all cases where the police uses force against protesters, and if there is any instance where the police's action is excessive or if its power had been exercised unlawfully, both the perpetrators and their commanders will be punished.
MFP MP candidate Bencha Saengchantra also tweeted condemning the police's action as an act of brutality, disregarding the rule of law and fundamental freedoms, and a serious violation of human rights. She said that such action is unacceptable and should not be ignored, noting that the more violence the police uses, the deeper the conflict.
Meanwhile, the Commonner Party has issued a statement condemning the police for the use of violence and sexual harassment against the 9 activists and the justice system for not releasing Thanalop even though the process of her arrest was unlawful
The party demands the immediate release of Thanalop and the 9 activists, and calls on other parties and the public to closely follow the situation to stand with the protesters who were assaulted by the police and to pressure the court to do its job in protecting children's right.