15 activists who received a police summons for their participation in the 18 July mass protest at the Democracy Monument went to Samranrat Police Station on 28 August to hear their charges, after they had participated in a demonstration at the 14 October Memorial on Ratchadamnoen Avenue the previous night.
The crowd at the Samranrat Police Station
At 9.20, the group marched from the 14 October Memorial to the police station with a crowd of around 200 supporters. Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) reported that the ground arrived at the police station just before 10.00, but the police has set up metal fences around the station building and only allowed reporters with government-issued identification cards inside. The supporters then pushed past the mental fence into the parking lot and under the station building.
As the crowd was pushing past the fence, a bucket of blue paint was thrown at the police officers standing behind the fence, also spilling over reporters and other protesters. Matichon Online reported that Chaiamorn “Ammy” Kaewwiboonpan, songwriter and lead singer for the pop band The Bottom Blues, was the one who threw the paint all over the officers while saying that “This is not a threat. If you’re still harassing us, I’ll harass you back with an artistic method.”
Chaiamorn later apologized to reporters for getting the paint on them and said that it was a symbolic act of protest.
The group left the station at 14.15 after hearing their charges and having been released without having to pay security.
The group leaving the police station building after hearing their charges
Jatupat “Pai Daodin” Boonpattararaksa, one of the activists being charged, said that the group denied all accusations and will be submitting written testimony by 11 September.
Jatupat said that the law is being used as a tool to restrict freedom, which will further damage the judicial system. He noted that those who were being charged included musicians, speakers, or people who were just at the protest, and that this does not lead to fear but to anger. He then called on police officers to show their support for democracy, that the people will protect them if they stand with the people, and that it is time for the police to decide whether to stand with the people or oppose them.
Jatupat said that they have always tried to make their demands politely, and that the price they have to pay make them learn and talk to each other. He said that escalation is needed and that the next fight will be more fun, and that the people will be raising money to buy new uniforms for the officers who got paint thrown on them, as they are fighting the system and not everyone in it who wears a khaki uniform. Jatupat also said that when their superior gives an order, it’s the lower ranking people who take it, and if they follow a superior whose order goes against their conscience, then the officers will have a price to pay.
Pimsiri Petchnamrob, another of the accused, said that there are people who like the paint throwing, and there are people who do not like it, but it is a way of resisting state power without anyone getting hurt or losing their lives. Pimsiri said that the level of protest in Thailand is too low and that everyone, no matter their position, has to pay the price.
Rap Against Dictatorship member Pratchayaa Surakamchonrot, who was also among the accused, said that facing legal prosecution creates obstacles in his life, as he has to take time to consult his lawyer and to report to the police. Pratchayaa said that this slows down his work and creates difficulties in his life, and that he doesn’t even have the time to look for his pet snake, which has recently gone missing.
Meanwhile, Theerapat Charoensuk announced on his Facebook page that he will be raising funds to purchase new uniforms for the 13 police officers whose uniforms were stained with paint.
Other than Jatupat, Pimsiri, and Pratchayaa, BBC Thai reported that the group who came to hear their charges today included Lalana Suriyo, Nawat Langwattanayam, Kanniti Limcharoen, Jiratita Tammarak, Nathapong Phukaew, Sirin Mungcharoen, Thanachai Ueacha, Yamaruddin Songsiri, Chonlatis Chotisawad, Taksakorn Musikarak, Kritsana Kaikaew, and Chakrathorn Daoyaem.
TLHR said that the group faced 7 charges:
- Assembling in a group of ten or more people and threatening an act of violence or causing a breach of the peace under Section 215 of the Criminal Code,
- Violating regulations regarding assemblies under the Emergency Decree,
- Performing an act which may cause unhygienic conditions that may result in the transmission of a dangerous communicable disease or epidemic under Section 34, Clause 6 of the Communicable Diseases Act,
- Obstructing the public way by placing or leaving thereon anything or by acting by any means which may interfere with the safety or convenience of traffic under Section 385 of the Criminal Code,
- Obstructing traffic under Section 114 of the Road Traffic Act,
- Using an electric sound amplifier without permission under Section 4 of the Controlling Public Advertisement by Sound Amplifier Act, and
- Piling objects on the road under Section 19 of the Act on the Maintenance of the Cleanliness and Orderliness of the Country.
In addition, Sirin Mungcharoen was also charged with taking donations in public without permission under the Fundraising Control Act.
Other activists are also facing charges for participating in the 18 July mass protest. Human rights lawyer Anon Nampa and student activist Panupong “Mike” Jadnok were arrested on 7 August and later released on bail. Free Youth Movement leaders Tattep “Ford” Ruangprapaikitseree and Panumas “James” Singprom were also arrested on Wednesday (26 August). In addition to the seven charges above, Anon, Panupong, Tattep, and Panumas were also accused of sedition.