Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) was informed of police intimidation and harassment from “Noom” (pseudonym), a university student in Bangkok. After sharing news about the confinement of Tiwagorn Withiton and the soaring price of triumphal arches in honor of the King as reported by Prachatai, at his house, he was visited by plainclothes officers and was forced to sign a document promising to refrain from publishing any posts about the monarchy on social media.
According to Noom, on the afternoon of 20 July 2020, two plainclothes police officers who identified themselves as police but did not mention their affiliation visited his residence. First, the officers met his father and showed him their badges, but his father failed to remember the names of the officers. Then they told his father that they had been instructed to talk with Noom. Thus, his father invited them inside while the officers did not show any warrants.
According to Noom, the officers showed him a stack of documents including a photocopy of his ID card with his photo and a screenshot of his Facebook which includes four to five posts that he had shared and published with a number of likes and shares. As far as he could recall, he had shared two reports from Prachatai: the confinement of Mr. Tiwagorn Withiton who wears the t-shirt “I have lost faith in the monarchy” and price survey of various sizes of the triumphal arches in honor of the King (in Thai). Noom said that he had shared this news without any caption on his personal Facebook and made it accessible to the public.
The officers told Noom that they had been instructed by their “superior officers” to monitor and warn him that if he still publishes or shares any Facebook post about the monarchy, he could be held accountable to offence pursuant to the Computer Crime Act. He was also told to hold his judgment, not letting it slip online.
They also showed him an agreement that he was asked to sign. It basically said that he promises to refrain from publishing any posts about the monarchy on social media in the future. Noom agreed to sign the document. The officers neither gave him a copy of the agreement nor allowed him to take a photo of it. However, they took the photo of his ID card.
In addition, the officers asked if Noom had participated in the Free Youth demonstration at the Democracy Monument on July 18. Noom said he did not. The officers spent only ten minutes talking with him in his residence.
TLHR has been receiving many reports from different areas of Thailand on the state officers visiting residences of those who published their opinions or shared the news concerning the monarchy on social media. Some of them were taken to police stations in various precincts and asked to sign an agreement, similar to Noom’s case. Moreover, the officers did not show any warrants before asking them to sign an agreement or taking them to police stations.
Previously, on 14 July 2020, Mr. Kriangkrai Singhon, an owner of a stainless-steel shop in Loey, was taken by the Internal Security Operation Command officers and held in custody at the Chiang Khan Police Station. He was asked to give a statement as a witness without any warrants. This stemmed from his Facebook cover photo which was the photo of Mr. Tiwagorn with the caption “#SaveTiwagorn, stop intimidating the people.” Later he was then released without any charges.