A pregnant woman was arrested on Wednesday 24 May for violating the now-repealed Severe State of Emergency by participating in a protest in October 2020. The arrest warrant was issued in March 2022.
Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) said that Chonticha Khumchan-ad was arrested in Pattaya on Wednesday evening (24 May) on an arrest warrant issued by the Dusit District Court and taken to Phaya Thai Police Station.
Chonticha was charged with violating the Severe State of Emergency for participating in the 21 October 2020 protest march from the Victory Monument to Government House to demand the resignation of now-Acting Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha and release all activists detained at the time. After she missed an appointment with the public prosecutor, an arrest warrant was issued for her on 22 March 2022.
A Severe State of Emergency was declared in Bangkok and surrounding provinces in the early morning of 15 October 2020, before riot police dispersed protesters gathering in front of Government House. It imposed a ban on public gatherings of more than five people, a ban on reporting information that threatened public stability, and control over transportation and access to certain buildings, in accordance with the Prime Minister’s orders. It was repealed on 22 October 2020, after pro-democracy protesters defied the gathering ban and protested for 6 straight days.
The Severe State of Emergency was described as an “emergency in emergency” due to the pre-existing State of Emergency declared in March 2020. Although it was supposedly declared in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, it has repeatedly been used to prosecute activists and protesters taking part in the pro-democracy protests starting in July 2020. The State of Emergency ended on 1 October 2022.
The police said that two other arrest warrants have also been issued for Chonticha, one for joining the 16 October 2020 protest at the Pathumwan Intersection and another for joining a protest on 20 October 2020 in front of The Mall Bangkhae shopping mall. She was also charged with violating the Severe State of Emergency in both cases and has missed her appointments with the public prosecutor.
Chonticha was later granted bail using a 10,000-baht security and is required to meet with the public prosecutor on 4 July. Since she is pregnant and her due date is three days away, the police allowed her to go home and to report to the police for the remaining two cases after she has given birth.
TLHR also reported that 11 activists were also charged with violation of the Severe State of Emergency for joining the 21 October 2020 protest march, but charges against 10 of them have been dismissed after the court ruled that they were exercising their constitutional right to protest and did not violate restrictions imposed by the Severe State of Emergency.