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[Media Line] Thailand: Drop all charges against activists who protested at the Samranrat police station

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On the evening of 10 May, a group of young activists–including Tantawan ‘Tawan’ Tuatulanon and Orawan Phupong–gathered at the Samranrat police station to protest against the police’s decision to impose additional charges on Yok, a 15-year-old student who had been detained for violating the lèse majesté law or Section 112 of Thailand’s Criminal Code, which punishes anyone who ‘defames, insults, or threatens’ the Thai monarchy.

The protesters sought Yok’s release and an end to the unjust charges. They, however, were apprehended by the authorities. The event was aired live on YouTube, documenting the police’s excessive use of force.

Some of the detained protesters suffered injuries during the arrests. Tawan also reported having experienced threats and physical attacks while in custody. At present, the authorities have detained the nine individuals across various police stations.

FORUM-ASIA calls upon the Thai authorities to drop all charges against the nine activists who were merely exercising their right to protest. 

Thailand–as a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights–is obliged to respect, protect, and fulfill the rights of its people to engage in peaceful assembly and association as well as their freedom of expression. 

Law enforcement officials, such as the police, are entrusted with the duty of facilitating such peaceful assemblies and mitigating conflicts through non-violent means. The use of force, only whenever the situation demands, must be proportionate to the legitimate objective of dispersing an assembly or preventing a crime. In this case, the police used violence and excessive force.

FORUM-ASIA reiterates its urgent call to the Thai Government to fulfill its international human rights obligations. We urge the authorities to drop all charges against the activists and to release them without further delay. Furthermore, the police officers who employed excessive force must be held accountable for their actions.