At least 9 activists in Nakhon Sawan Province have reported visits and intimidation by police officers throughout the past week ahead of Princess Sirindhorn’s visit to the province on Monday (7 February 2022).
Police officers around activist Phimchanok Jaihong's house (Picture from TLHR)
Thai Lawyers for Human rights (TLHR) said that members of a vocational school student network in the province have been visited by police officers several times since 2 February 2022, and that they have been threatened by the police.
One of the members said that they have faced regular surveillance, such as in December 2021 and January 2022, when they were followed by police officers while setting up a table for people to sign a petition to repeal the royal defamation law at a local park. They said that police officers are now calling their parents and threatening to arrest them, causing several members to be reprimanded by their families for participating in these activities.
Ice, 19, said that police officers visited his family’s house on 2 February 2022. The house is his address according to the household register, but he does not live there. The police met his aunt and uncle and showed them a picture of him participating in a demonstration, telling them that he could be arrested for joining such activity. The police then called his uncle again on 4 February 2022, telling him that they wanted Ice to move his household registration into Mueang District, Nakhon Sawan, so that it would be easy for the police to monitor his activity.
Another 19-year-old student also said that police officers have been trying to track him down since 30 January 2022. He said that officers went to his relative’s house, which is his registered address. The house is currently for sale, so the officers called the number on the for sale sign, and asked his relative whether he is home and asked to meet him.
The student said that while getting a call from the police caused concerns, his family has not forbidden him from joining protests. He insisted he will continue his activity, since he believes it is his right to do so.
Another member of the network said that he received a call from an officer at the Mueang Nakhon Sawan Police Station, who asked him whether he knows Princess Sirindhorn will be visiting the province and whether he and his friends will be doing anything during her visit. He said he told the officer that he did not know that the princess would be visiting the province until the officer told him.
The member said that police officers previously called him several times to check on his activities, such as during the Naresuan University graduation ceremony in late 2021. He said that he has gotten used to police surveillance, but he still thinks of it as intimidation and said that his friends who have not faced this before, as well as their parents, might be frightened.
One more member of the group said that a police officer also called him on 2 February 2022 and asked him whether the network would be doing anything during Princess Sirindhorn’s visit.
On Monday (7 February 2022), activist Phimchanok Jaihong posted on Facebook that around 14 – 15 plainclothes officers went to her house, which TLHR said is also a gathering place for activists. The police claimed that they were not visiting Phimchanok. However, they stood around the alley in front of her house, and TLHR speculated that they were monitoring the activists’ activities.
Phimchanok also said that she had been followed by an officer since she left Bangkok, since she noticed that one of the passengers on the bus she took from Bangkok to Nakhon Sawan was also among the officers outside her house.
Princess Sirindhorn visited Wat Si Utum Phon temple in Muang district, Nakhon Sawan, in a personal capacity on Monday (7 February 2022) to attend a ceremony in which the Chofa, a decorative ornament often seen at the top of Thai temples, is raised above the roof of the ordination hall.
Previously, on 3 January 2022, Kantapat, 17, a student activist in Buriram, was summoned to meet the police and made to sign a paper affirming that he would not interfere with an upcoming royal procession of Princess Sirindhorn on 5 January.
Kantapat told Prachatai that he received a phone call from a police officer on 2 January asking him not to stage any activity on 5 January. The police also asked that he go to the police station to sign the daily log and allow police to confirm his whereabouts via telephone at least twice a day during the 3-5 January period.
The activist said that he had no plan to organise any activity during that time and was instead preparing for a midterm exam that was scheduled for after the long new year’s holiday. Despite this, plainclothes police reportedly kept an eye on him at his home and school.