On 24 April 2017, 6 student activists from Dao Din and New Generation Citizen reported to the Provincial Court of Khon Kaen to hear their charges on contempt of court. All six denied all charges against them and declared no appointment of lawyers, stating they would fight the case on their own. Meanwhile, Sirawit (Ja New) submitted a letter to postpone his reporting. The Court scheduled all seven defendants to report again at 10 am on 31 May 2017 at the Khon Kaen Court.

Dao Din members Mr Apiwat Soontararak (law student at Ramkhamhaeng University), Mr Payu Boonsophon, Mr Akom Sributta, Ms Juthamas Srihattapadungkit, Mr Panupong Sritananuwat (law students at Khon Kaen University), along with New Generation Citizen member Mr Narongrit Upachan (social science student at Khon Kaen University) marched to report to the Khon Kaen Court. Mr Sirawit Serithiwat (Ja New)—key member of Resistant Citizen, did not come to the Court and submitted a letter to postpone his reporting, since he had not received the Court summons.

The Court read the allegations, accused by Director of the Administration Office of Khon Kaen Provincial Court, that on 10 February 2017 a group of individuals carried out acts, including giving a speech, singing, and showing signs of discontent of the Court’s decision, in front of the Khon Kaen Court sign. They were later identified by Pol Lt Col Adisak, one of the eyewitnesses, as these seven activists. The Court then asked and had the defendants confirm their identity with photos of such acts, and read their right to counsel. The six defendants refused to appoint a lawyer and declared they would fight the case themselves; they further denied all charges against them.

The Court then ordered the six defendants to submit a written statement with a list of witnesses within 15 days. All seven defendants were scheduled to report again to the Khon Kaen Court at 10 am on 31 May 2017. In addition, the defendants submitted a bail application with 50,000 Baht (approx. USD 1428) surety each and two lecturers, Dr Ekkapan Pintawanich (Director of the Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies (IHRP), Mahidol University) and Dr Ekkasak Yuktanan (Lecturer at Humanities and Social Science Faculty, Khon Kaen University) as their guarantors; the Court granted temporary release.

Case Background

On 17 March 2017, 4 student activists from pro-democracy groups Dao Din and New Generation Citizen were charged with contempt of court for a peaceful gathering in front of the Khon Kaen Court on 10 February 2017 to give moral supports to and request a temporary release of Mr. Jatupat Boonpattaraksa, aka Pai ‘Dao Din’. The alleged offenders include members of Dao Din and law students at Khon Kaen University (KKU) Mr. Payu Boonsophon, Mr. Akom Sributta (formerly known as Chatmongkhon Chanchiawchan) and Miss Juthamas Srihattapadungkit, as well as Mr. Narongrit Upachan, member of the New Generation Citizen and social science student at Khon Kaen University.

Later on 20 March 2017, another 3 student activists were charged with the same offence, Mr. Sirawit Serithiwat (aka Ja New)—key member of Resistant Citizen, Mr. Panupong Sritananuwat—Dao Din member and law student at Khon Kaen University, and Mr. Apiwat Soontararak—Dao Din member and law student at Ramkhamhaeng University. All alleged offenders have been politically active and campaigned against the coup staged by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) on 22 May 2014.

On 10 February 2017, the Khon Kaen Court held a deposition hearing for Jatupat, key member of pro-democracy groups Dao Din and New Democracy Movement (NDM) and law student at Khon Kaen University, who was charged with lese majeste under Article 112 of the Criminal Code and offence under the Computer Crime Act for sharing and quoting content of a BBC Thai article. The prosecutor had issued a prosecution order the previous day while the Court refused to grant Jatupat bail.

About 50, including the alleged offenders, were present to give moral supports to and requests the Court to release Jatupat, but were denied entry to the courtroom. Members of the Four Region Student Network therefore read out a statement condemning the Court of the pro-longed pre-trial detention and the prosecution of Jatupat in front of the Court. Part of the statement reads “The justice system is neither independent nor just. It violates human rights of a man. We as fellow human beings will not accept or tolerate this injustice”.(Read more)

Other charges of student activists

  • Sirawit ‘Ja New’ Serithiwat, a prominent anti-coup activist from Resistant Citizen, is currently facing several proceedings. Firstly, he was charged with the NCPO Announcement no. 7/2014, ban on political gatherings of five or more persons, for organising an event “My Dear Election”. Later he was additionally charged with violation of an MOU, ceasing his political movement, under the NCPO Announcement no. 40/2014. (Read more) Further, participating in an event “Train to Shed Light on Corruption Scandals of Rajabhakti Park” dated 7 December 2015, he was charged with breaching the Head of the NCPO Order no. 3/2015, ban on political gatherings of five or more persons. (Read more) Later, he was charged with offence under the Public Cleanliness and Order Maintenance Act 1992 for participating in the “Rights Post-It” event. (Read more)
  • Dao Din’s Coup Anniversary in Khon KaenPayu Boonsophon, Panupong Sritananuwat and Apiwat Soontararak were charged with offence under the Head of the NCPO Order no. 3/2015, ban on political gatherings of five or more persons, along with other Dao Din activists. The charge stems from they holding anti-coup signs at the Khon Kaen Democracy Monument to mark the one year anniversary of the 2014 coup on 22 May 2015.
  • Fourteen student activists from New Democracy Movement (NDM)—fourteen students including Payu, Panupong and Apiwat, were charged with sedition under Article 116 of the Criminal Code and political gathering offence under the Head of the NCPO Order no. 3/2015, for peaceful gathering dated 25 June 2015. The case is pending with the inquiry officer at police stage. (Read more)
  • Talk for Freedom event in Khon Kaen—On 31 July 2016, Panupong, Akom (Chatmongkhon) and Narongrit were charged with offence under the Head of the NCPO Order no. 3/2015, ban on political gatherings of five or more persons, for organising an event “Talk for Freedom: Draft Constitution and Isaan People” at the Khon Kaen University. The case is pending with the inquiry officer at Khon Kaen Police Station. (Read more)