On 7 July 2022, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Thailand.
Description of the situation:
The Observatory has been informed of the deteriorating health of Natthanit Duangmusit, aka “Baipor”, and Netiporn Sanesangkhom, aka “Bung”, members of the pro-democracy group Thalu Wang. Thalu Wang (“shattering the palace”) is a pro-democratic and monarchy reform activist group formed in early 2022. Thalu Wang has advocated for the abolition of Article 112 of Thailand’s Criminal Code (“lèse-majesté”). Since late January 2022, the Thalu Wang group has been conducting public opinion polls at various locations in Bangkok on how the Thai monarchy affects people’s lives and whether its reform is needed. Both of them have been arbitrarily detained since May 3, 2022, at the Central Women’s Correctional Institution in Bangkok. Their requests for bail have been denied six times by the Bangkok South Criminal Court on May 20 and 27, on June 2, 16, and 23, and on July 7, 2022, and once by the Court of Appeals on June 24, 2022, as the investigating police objected to their temporary release.
On June 16, 2022, Natthanit was taken for the first time to the Correctional Hospital in Bangkok’s Chatuchak District after suffering from severe diarrhea. Natthanit reported that a volunteer doctor who saw her threatened and verbally harassed her. According to Natthanit, he said “if I had a gun” – imitating with his hand a gun and pointing at his chin. After the incident, Natthanit filed a complaint with the Department of Corrections and informed her lawyer on June 17, 2022. After she filed the complaint, the volunteer doctor rejected her requests for further medical attention.
On June 22, 2022, lawyers from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), who represent Natthanit and Netiporn, were informed by their lawyer that Netiporn was transferred to the Correctional Hospital in the early hours of June 21, 2022, in a distressed state of health. Netiporn complained of severe stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting. From June 24, 2022, Netiporn could only drink water.
On June 27, 2022, Netiporn was again admitted to the Correctional Hospital for treatment after complaining of severe abdominal pain. She was given saline solution and vitamins because she could no longer tolerate the abdominal pain. Her blood test showed a low level of potassium and intravenous medication was administered. On July 1, Netiporn was taken back to the Central Women’s Correctional Institution.
Since June 2, 2022, Natthanit and Netiporn have been on a hunger strike to protest their detention. As a result of the hunger strike, they have both experienced fatigue, dizziness, stomach pain, and weight loss. On July 1, 2022, Netiporn’s lawyer submitted a letter to the Department of Corrections’ Director-General to seek permission to allow an external physician trusted by Netiporn’s family to conduct a physical examination. At the time of publication of this Urgent Appeal, no reply had been given by the Department of Corrections.
Natthanit and Netiporn are facing legal action for alleged violations of Articles 112 (“lèse-majesté”), 116 (“sedition”), 140 (“resisting or obstructing an official through the use of violence by three or more people”) and 368 (“refusal to comply with an official order”) of Thailand’s Criminal Code. The charges against Natthanit and Netiporn stemmed from a public opinion poll on royal motorcades they conducted at Bangkok’s Siam Paragon mall on February 8, 2022. On March 10, 2022, police from Bangkok’s Pathumwan police station summoned Natthanit and Netiporn to hear charges under the above-referenced provisions of the Criminal Code in connection with the February 8 event. they were released on a 200,000 Baht (around 5,416 Euros) bail on the same day. However, because they conducted another public opinion poll on land confiscation on March 13, 2022, at Bangkok’s Victory Monument, their bail was revoked by the Bangkok South Criminal Court on May 3, 2022, at the request of the investigating police, who argued that the March 13 event amounted to a violation of their bail conditions set on March 10, 2022. The bail conditions for Natthanit and Netiporn prevented them from: engaging in activities that damage the monarchy; and inviting, inciting or convincing people via social media to participate in protests or activities that cause public disorder.
The Observatory recalls that a third Thalu Wang member, pro-democracy activist Tantawan Tuatulanon, was detained on April 20, 2022, in connection with the February 8 public opinion poll. On May 26, 2022, Tantawan was released on bail after 36 days of hunger strike and placed under house arrest-like conditions, which include among others a travel ban and an electronic monitoring device attached to her ankle.
The Observatory is deeply concerned about Natthanit and Netiporn’s health conditions, which have severely deteriorated as a result of their hunger strike, and which could worsen due to lack of proper medical attention. The Observatory calls on the Thai authorities to immediately provide adequate medical care to Natthanit and Netiporn and to release them on medical grounds. The Observatory also calls on the Thai authorities to release all other pro-democracy activists in Thailand and to put an end to the judicial harassment against them, including Natthanit and Netiporn.
The Observatory notes that between November 24, 2020, and June 30, 2022, 203 people, including many human rights defenders and at least 16 minors, were charged under Article 112 of the Criminal Code.
Please write to the authorities of Thailand asking them to:
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Natthanit, Netiporn, and all other human rights defenders and pro-democracy activists in Thailand, grant them access to adequate medical care during their detention, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals;
ii. Immediately and unconditionally release Natthanit and Netiporn, since their detention is arbitrary as it seems to be merely aimed at punishing them for their human rights activities;
iii. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Natthanit, Netiporn, and all other human rights defenders and pro-democracy activists in the country;
iv. Amend or refrain from using Articles 112 and 116 of the Criminal Code to target human rights defenders and pro-democracy activists.
● Mr. Prayuth Chan-ocha, Prime Minister of Thailand, Email: [email protected]
● Mr. Don Pramudwinai, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, Email: [email protected]
● Mr. Somsak Thepsutin, Minister of Justice of Thailand, Email: [email protected]
● Gen Apirat Kongsompong, Commander in Chief of the Royal Thai Army, Email: [email protected]
● Pol Gen Chaktip Chaijinda, Commissioner-General of the Royal Thai Police, Email: [email protected]
● Mr. Prakairat Tanteerawong, National Human Rights Commissioner of Thailand, Email: [email protected] / [email protected]
● H.E. Mr. Thani Thongphakdi, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Thailand to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Email: [email protected]
● Embassy of Thailand in Brussels, Belgium, Email: [email protected]
Please also write to the diplomatic representatives of Thailand in your respective countries.
Paris-Geneva, July 7, 2022
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
• E-mail: [email protected]
• Tel FIDH: +33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18
• Tel OMCT: +41 (0) 22 809 49 39