260 protesters arrested in August, says TLHR

At least 260 protesters have been arrested during pro-democracy protests in August 2021, 70 of whom are minors, say Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR).

Crowd control police lining up in front of the container blocking the Din Daeng Intersection during a protest on 28 August. (Photo by Nontawat Numbenchapol)

In a report published on 27 August, TLHR noted that while protests continued in Bangkok and other provinces between 1 – 25 August 2021 against the government’s mishandling of the Covid-19 pandemic and demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, there has also been an increase in the authorities’ efforts to curb the protests, which include pressing charges against activists and arresting both protesters and bystanders almost every night throughout the month.

TLHR stated that at least 260 people were arrested during pro-democracy protests between 1 – 25 August, at least 13 of whom were under 15 years old and at least 57 between 15 – 18 years old. This number does not include 11 activists who surrendered themselves on charges relating to recent protests. At least 53 people were also injured during their arrest.

Of the activists who turned themselves in, seven remain in detention: Anon Nampa, Jatupat Boonpattararaksa, Parit Chiwarak, Phromsorn Weerathamjaree, Natchanon Pairoj, Panupong Jadnok, and Thatchapong Kaedam.

Parit, Jatupat, Phromsorn, Panupong, and Thatchapong have tested positive for Covid-19 while in detention. Sirichai Natueng, Sam Samat, and Thanapat Khapeng also tested positive for Covid-19 after being arrested. Sirichai and Sam have been transferred to a hospital for treatment after they were granted bail.

Most people were arrested in the Din Daeng area, where regular clashes between protesters and crowd control police have been taking place since 7 August. Of the 209 people arrested at Din Daeng, at least 13 were under 15 years old and at least 56 were between 15 – 18 years old.

TLHR noted that these arrests were indiscriminate, as those who were arrested included people participating in the protests, activists with arrest warrants from previous protests, those traveling to the protests, speaker truck drivers, truck drivers hired to transport equipment used during the protests, and those who are not involved in the protests, such as residents in the Din Daeng area, people leaving home to purchase food, and people traveling on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road.

The detainees were charged with violating the Emergency Decree and the Communicable Diseases Act, joining an assembly of more than 10 people and causing a breach of public peace. They were taken to the Border Patrol Police Region 1 headquarters in Pathum Thani, the Narcotics Suppression Bureau, and various police stations across Bangkok. TLHR said that, since they were not taken to the local police station in the areas where they were arrested or to the police stations of the officers responsible for the case, these arrests are unlawful.

TLHR also noted the escalation in the police’s use of force to disperse protesters. Crowd control police have fired rubber bullets indiscriminately at crowds, injuring reporters and bystanders. A woman riding her motorcycle through the Din Daeng Intersection while returning home after work was shot in the back with a rubber bullet, while a truck driver driving through the protest on 10 August was attacked by crowd control police.

During a protest on 15 August, crowd control police ran into the entrance of a nearby condominium, firing rubber bullets into the condominium area and ordering bystanders to return to their residences. Meanwhile, several reporters have been hit with rubber bullets while covering the protests, despite wearing visible press IDs, including the press armband issued by the Thai Journalists Association (TJA), which has been used to identify field reporters covering protests since 2020.


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