Police raid apartment, arrest activists

Three activists from the monarchy reform group Thaluwang were arrested yesterday (28 April) on a royal defamation charge after police officers raided their apartment.

The three activists (centre) at the police station after their arrest

Activist Supitcha Chailom went live on her personal Facebook profile saying that she was with Netiporn Sanesangkhom and “Baipor” or Nutthanit (last name withheld), and that police officers were outside their apartment door with an arrest warrant for them. She said they would not open the door until they felt safe and barricaded the door.

The activists stayed inside the locked room until a lawyer from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) arrived at around 16.40. They also stayed live on Facebook and only opened the door once they got confirmation that the police would not search their apartment.

During the live stream, Supitcha said that an employee of the apartment building was arranging for a locksmith to come take the digital lock out of the door. Netiporn said that their apartment building is likely to be collaborating with government agencies, since the police previously parked their cars on the apartment premises. She also speculated that there are police officers on the apartment committee and that this is why they facilitated the police operation.

She later said that plainclothes police have been stationed under her apartment building since the morning, and that the officers who came up to her room did not state their names or what warrant they have, only saying that they wanted to search the room because there is an arrest warrant.

The activists were taken to Bang Sue Police Station. However, once they arrived, the vehicle containing Supitcha and Nutthanit turned out of the police station towards Soi Inthamara 4. The activists then insisted on going back to the police station, where their lawyer was waiting. The car stopped in front of a condominium building for a few minutes before taking them back to the police station.

TLHR said that there is an arrest warrant out for the three activists on a royal defamation charge issued by officers from Bang Sue Police Station. At the police station, they were later told that the charge resulted from an event on 18 April around the Chatuchak MRT station, during which Thaluwang conducted a poll on whether people agree with the government allowing the King to use his powers as he pleases.

TLHR also said that Technology Crime Suppression Division officers came to the police station asking to check the activists' phones. However, since they could not present a warrant, the activists refused to comply. Meanwhile a crowd was gathering outside to show support for the activists.

Supitcha, Netiporn, and Nutthanit were detained overnight at Bang Sue Police Station. They were taken to court for a temporary detention request via teleconference this morning (29 April) and were later granted bail using a 90,000-baht security each.

The Court prohibited them from participating in activities which damage the monarchy or cause public disorder and gave them a curfew of 16.00 – 6.00. They must also wear an electronic monitoring bracelet and report to the court every 30 days.

Supitcha and Nutthanit, along with activist Benjamaporn Nivas, were arrested last Friday (22 April) while on their way to Cha-am on charges of royal defamation and violation of the Computer Crimes Act.

As Thaluwang members, Supitcha, Benjamaporn, and Nutthanit have conducted public polls on questions relating to the monarchy, such as whether people are affected by royal motorcades, whether they would like their tax money to be used to maintain the monarchy, and whether they agree with the government allowing the King to use his powers as he pleases.

Nutthanit and Netiporn were previously charged with royal defamation, sedition, and refusing to comply with an officer’s order for conducting a poll on royal motorcades at Siam Paragon shopping mall on 8 February 2022. Yesterday was the third time they have been charged with royal defamation.

On 28 December 2021, Nutthanit was also among three activists arrested for holding up banners with the message “Abolish Section 112” at Wongwian Yai, where a crowd of people were waiting to see King Vajiralongkorn and his entourage. At that time officers pushed them around and tried to silence them by placing their hands over their mouth, causing minor injuries. They were charged with causing a public commotion and failing to comply with police orders and received a 1000-baht fine.

Supitcha has been previously charged with royal defamation for a speech given at a protest in Songkhla on 30 November 2020. Yesterday was also her third royal defamation charge.

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