Members of the Resistant Citizen and other citizens, 16 of them, were apprehended at the Victory Monument while organizing a protest against the arrest and deprivation of liberty of another eight citizens by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO). The protesters were driven by the police to the Phaya Thai Police Station and Mr. Anon Nampa was pressed with a charge while the other two protesters who had been wanted for another demonstration in front of the Bangkok Art and Cultural Center since last year were taken to the Pathumwan Police Station and another protester, Mr. Burin Intin was taken into an army minivan bearing the sign of the 12th Signal Battalion, the King’s Guard and driven away to an unknown destination.
On 27 April 2016, at 11.00, Mr. Anon Nampa, a member of the Resistant Citizen, posted a message on his personal Facebook to invite people to gather to show their opposition to the arbitrary detention and to demand the release of eight citizens who had been held in custody in a military barrack since early morning on the same day. They were supposed to meet up at the Victory Point square, the Victory Monument, Bangkok, at 18.00 to silently stand up and to not obstruct the movement of other pedestrians.
Prior to the time, a company of uniformed police officials drawn from various nearby police stations was deployed around the Victory Monument and adjacent skywalks since 17.00 with police vehicles pulled over all around. The police forces were led by Pol Col Atthawit Saisueb, Deputy Commander of Metropolitan Police Division 1 and Pol Col Chanawin Puanpet, Superintendent of the Phaya Thai Police Station with a few media around there.
Around 18.00, about ten citizens gathered there for the activity and were encircling in the area. They were surrounded by a cordon of police forces. At 18.10, eight protesters of the first batch of protesters including Mr. Piyarat Chongthep, Mr. Suppachai Charoensakwattana, Ms. Aporn Yeerosa, Ms. Yupa Saengsai, Mr. Wasin Wairiya, Mr. Apisit Sapnapaphan, Ms. Nattaya Panutat, and Ms. Suwimon Thaicharoen were taken to the Phaya Thai Police Station.
At 18.15, Ms. Nachacha Kongudom walked to the protesting spot and stand there by herself while being photographed by a crew of media. Pol Col Atthawit Saisueb has reigned in and had her taken to the Phaya Thai Police Station later. She was the ninth protester who was arrested.
At 18.27, the Resistant Citizen group led by Mr. Anon Nampa, Mr. Pansak Srithep, Mr. Pakorn Areekul, Mr. Nattapat Akkhad and Mr. Burin Intin arrived at the Victory Point while the police stopped short from apprehending them immediately. The Resistant Citizen members were standing there to allow the media to take their picture for about five minutes before being arrested by the police and taken to the Phaya Thai Police Station. Then, there were 14 protesters rounded up.
At 18.50, Mr. Kititach Sumannop, aka ‘Champ 1984’ and Mr. Witsarut Anukulkan came to the protesting spot and just stood there silently. They were later arrested and taken by the police to the Phaya Thai Police Station. In total, there were 16 arrested protesters from the Victory Monument.
At the Phaya Thai Police Station, the 16 protesters were inquired and had their personal records taken down by the inquiry officials. Mr. Anon Nampa was charged for organizing a public assembly without first informing the competent authority on two counts including today’s demonstration and another demonstration at the Victory Monument to demand the release of Mr. Wattana Muangsuk who were then held in custody of the military on 19 April 2016. Mr. Anon denied both charges. The other 15 protesters were not pressed with any charges and at 22.50 were released from custody.
While the 16 protesters were inquired at the Phaya Thai Police Station, one of them, Mr. Burin Intin was abruptly taken away by military officials and brought into a minivan of the 12th Signal Battalion, the King’s Guard and driven away at 20.40. It was found out later by lawyer of the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) that he was held in custody by Lt Col Peerayuth Sawetseranee for allegedly committing the offence against Article 112 of the Penal Code, but no one knew where he was taken to.
After the release, Ms. Nachacha Kongudom, a transgendered student activist, posted on her personal Facebook that while being arrested by the police at the Victory Monument and being taken to the Phaya Thai Police Station, one of the police officials shoved her in her back and shouted “This guy is not a woman. No need to be handled by women police”. It was later reported on Fahroong Srikhao Facebook page that Pol Col Atthawit Saisueb, Deputy Commander of Metropolitan Police Division 1, as the officer in charge of the police forces and commander of the Taskforces apologized for some scuffle during the operation and for the improper word used. He admitted that everyone was stretched out and put under pressure to bring the activity to a smooth ending.
After the release from the Phaya Thai Police Station, Mr. Pakorn Areekul and Mr. Apisit Sapnapaphan were arrested by officials from the Pathumwan Police Station. They had been wanted for their demonstration on 22 May 2015 in front of the Bangkok Art and Cultural Center to mark the first year after the coup. They were accompanied by their friends, Mr. Rangsiman Rome and Mr. Ratthapol Supasopon, and all were driven to the Pathumwan Police Station. Around 23.00, Ms. Chonticha Jaeng-rew also came to the Pathumwan Police Station to turn herself in as well.
The five activists were informed of the charges and related facts by the inquiry officials of the Pathumwan Police Station that Pol Col Jarut Sarutyaporn, Superintendent of the Pathumwan Police Station, the accuser in this case, had learned since 21 May 2015, an activity was to be held to mark the first one year of the coup in front of the Bangkok Art and Cultural Center on 22 May 2015. On the appointment day, the five alleged offenders came to the Bangkok Art and Cultural Center and participated in an activity to express political views. Even though, the officials had intervened to ask them to stop the activity, still they persisted. Thus, the riot control company, inquiry officials from the Pathumwan Police Station and police forces from the Bangkok Metropolitan Police 6 and other plainclothes military officers charged in to bring them and others, altogether 36, to the Pathumwan Police Station. They were then accused of violating the Head of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Order no. 3/2015’s ’s Article 12 for illegal assembly or political gathering of five persons and upward, the offence of which carries up to six months of imprisonment or a fine not exceeding 10,000 baht, or both, and is subjected to jurisdiction of military courts.
The five alleged offenders refused to give any evidence then and to sign in the forms for taking evidence. They also refused to have their fingers printed. The inquiry officials asked them to come to transfer them to the charge of military prosecutor on 11 May 2016. Then, they were let go.
After the release, Mr. Pakorn Areekul said that “I want people to affirm their right to freedom”. The five of them agreed that “everyone should concentrate and pay attention to the custody of the eight citizens instead.”