Connect with us

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Human Rights Watch blasts the arrest of Phuket artist over online comments

Jack Burton



PHOTO: Coconuts

A local artist and art gallery owner in Phuket, Danai Ussama, better known as “Mr Zen”, was arrested at his home on the island this week, on the day before Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha announced a state of emergency would soon go into effect (which happened on Thursday, March 26).

The 42 year old street artist was arrested Monday afternoon and charged with committing a computer crime. Despite being under self-quarantine, officers flew Danai to Bangkok, where he was charged with violating the Computer-Related Crime Act for “putting into a computer system false data in a manner that is likely to cause panic in the public.”

If found guilty, he faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to 100,000 baht.

Writing under the name Zen Wide on his Facebook page, Danai’s post was shared more than 10,000 times. It has since been removed.

The charge is based on a complaint against Airports of Thailand (AoT), which operates six international airports in Thailand. The March 16 post on the “Zen Wide” Facebook account said that upon return from Barcelona, he and other passengers didn’t encounter any Covid-19 coronavirus screening at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, an AoT managed airport.

AoT claims his post is not factual and caused public panic by misleading people into thinking that Suvarnabhumi Airport failed to effectively implement Covid-19 screening.

International rights group Human Rights Watch has blasted the arrest.

“Thai authorities should immediately stop using ‘anti-fake news’ laws to prosecute people critical of the government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

“The state of emergency, which came into effect yesterday, three days after the arrest, heightens concerns of greater repression of free speech.”

“Thai authorities seem intent on shutting down critical opinions from the media and general public about their response to the Covid-19 crisis. The Emergency Decree provides the government a free hand to censor free speech.”

Whistleblowers in the public health sector too, and online journalists have faced retaliatory lawsuits and intimidation from authorities after they criticised government response to the outbreak and reported alleged corruption related to hoarding of surgical masks and other supplies and black-market profiteering.

Concerns about government restrictions on free speech rose when the PM Prayut Chan-ocha declared the state of emergency on Tuesday.

SOURCE: The Phuket News


Want more Thailand news from the Thaiger family?

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS for instant updates on your mobile
📝️ Join the conversation on Thaiger Talk - discuss news & life in our Thailand forums
📧 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🔔 Subscribe to or Join our YouTube channel for daily video updates


Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Thailand1 hour ago

Pair arrested for allegedly stealing prepaid phone cards worth 240 million baht, take home almost 150

Best of2 hours ago

Top 5 Indian Restaurants in Bangkok

Phuket3 hours ago

A Korean restaurant catches fire at a Phuket shopping centre

Phuket Sandbox July 1st


Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in July - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages in June!

Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Best of3 hours ago

Top 10 Provinces to visit in Thailand

Coronavirus (Covid-19)3 hours ago

Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine approved for emergency use in Thailand

World3 hours ago

1 dead 99 unaccounted for in Florida building collapse

World3 hours ago

Airlines participate in trials of IATA Travel Pass app

Best of3 hours ago

Top 8 Street Foods in Thailand

World4 hours ago

A bed in the sky: Shanghai opens world’s highest luxury hotel

Thailand4 hours ago

GMT Live | Bangkok Covid situation, Klongtoey slums, Sandbox squabbles

Coronavirus (Covid-19)4 hours ago

Covid-19 cluster found at children’s home outside Bangkok

Best of4 hours ago

Top 5 Floating Markets in Bangkok

Phuket5 hours ago

Phuket officials in last-minute scramble to fix sandbox hiccups

Tourism14 hours ago

TAT claims 1,500 travellers arriving in Phuket July 1

Coronavirus (Covid-19)16 hours ago

5 million Moderna vaccines for Thailand, half of expectation

Thailand4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism4 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism4 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism4 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Southern floods, Face mask fines, Thai Air Asia woes | January 8