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The prosecutor has filed suits against 5 activists and protesters for allegedly harming HM the Queen when a royal motorcade passed pro-democracy protesters on 14 October 2020.

A moment when the royal motorcade passing through Phitsanulok road.

According to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, the 5 include Ekkachai Hongkangwan, Boonkueanoon Paothong and Suranat Paenprasoet. Ekkachai and Boonkueanoon posted 300,000 baht each as security while the rest posted 200,000 baht each.

They were charged under Section 110 of the Criminal Code for harming HM the Queen’s liberty. If found guilty, they face 16-20 years in prison or life. 

Before the process began on Wednesday morning, Ekkachai said he had previously been denied bail in this case due to the severe penalty which might result in him fleeing. But 5 months has passed since then and he has not given any thought to fleeing. He presented himself today to ask for justice, not the court’s mercy.

Boonkueanoon also read a statement, saying that they had no intention to commit the offense as charged. They are proud of being part of the pro-democracy movement and would fight on even if bail was denied.

“I will move forward without any regrets at all, fighting whatever confronts me with a smile and the satisfaction of knowing that what we have sacrificed will have meaning. And my reputation will be etched in history, knowing that our spirit, our subconscious mind and our faith will certainly never be destroyed,” said Boonkueanoon. (Source: Matichon

What happened at the 14 October royal procession?

The incident took place at around 17.50 on Phitsanulok Road during the march by anti-dictatorship protesters from the Democracy Monument to Government House. The police had blocked the way, but some of the protesters, including the two accused, managed to make it through and were sandwiched by the police from behind.

As the main bulk of the protesters were negotiating with the police to open up a path, a royal motorcade passed by on Phitsanulok Road where there were police, anti-dictatorship protesters and some pro-monarchy people wearing yellow who were already there.

The Queen, representing King Rama X and accompanied by Prince Dipangkorn Rasmijoti, was on her way to offer robes to monks in kathin ceremonies (an annual Buddhist merit offering ceremony) at Wat Arun Ratchawararam (the Temple of the Dawn) and Wat Ratcha Orasaram.  The motorcade passed protesters shouting and raising the 3-finger salute. One person also threw a bottle of water at the motorcade.

Ekkachai, Boonkueanoon and Suranat insist that they did not know about the arrival of the royal motorcade. 

Questions raised over procession route

Many pro-monarchy social media channels saw the confrontation at the royal procession as an assault on and harassment of the royal family. The severe state of emergency in Bangkok that was announced on 15 October also referred to the incident as unlawful and a threat to national security.

The Thai Move Institute, a conservative and pro-monarchy online influencer, interviewed people wearing yellow who were there to greet the royal procession. One of them said he was informed from news sources that there would be a royal procession there. So he moved from Makkhawan bridge where another royal procession had already passed by.

He said he and 20 other like-minded people tried to block the protesters while shouting “long live the Queen”. Another interviewee said that he did not know who was in the procession.

News reporters who were there also gave their views of the incident. Pravit Rojanaphruk from Khaosod English stated that he was there reporting via Facebook live. According to his observation, he did not see anyone trying to stop the procession or hitting the vehicles.

Live footage (sound muted due to improper language) from Teeranai Charuvastra, another Khaosod English reporter, confirms Pravit’s observation that no announcements were made as the police formed up the blockade. Ekachai and Boonkueanoon can be seen raising 3 fingers but neither of them blocked or got close to the procession at all.

“And importantly, there was no announcement from the police at all that there would be a royal procession along Phitsanulok Road, in front of Government House which the first group of protesters had occupied so easily that Francis (Boonkueanoon) told me that it was so easy that it felt ‘fishy’,” stated Pravit on Facebook.

Noppakow Kongsuwan, another reporter from Khaosod Online who was reporting on the pedestrian bridge across Phitsanulok Road, which would normally be cleared of people if there was a royal procession, stated on his Facebook post that there were no announcements or attempts to clear the pedestrian bridge.

He also questioned why the royal motorcade travelled via this route where the main bulk of the protesters were. Even though all alternative routes like Ratchadamnoen Avenue were almost completely cleared of protesters, the police responsible for arranging the motorcade route still decided to use Phitsanulok Road.

“I raise the question with no intent to provoke, based on available facts which many media agencies reported or even from many video clips or many of those who were there. There is collective agreement that in this case “there was no blocking” at all,” stated Noppakow.

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