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“Penguin” released on bail

Jack Burton

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“Penguin” released on bail | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Student activist Parit Chiwarak flashes the anti-government "3 finger salute" - The Sun Daily
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22 year old anti-government activist Parit Chiwarak, known by his nickname “Penguin”, was released on bail this afternoon around 2:15 in Bangkok. He was arrested yesterday and charged with breaching internal security rules and breaking the Emergency Decree enacted in April to stop the spread of Covid-19, among other charges, by co-organising a protest on July 18.

Since that July protest, student groups across Thailand have rallied almost daily, demanding the removal of PM Prayuth Chan-ocha, who took power in a 2014 military coup, a rewrite of the nation’s Constitution and an end to the military domination of politics and state intimidation of critics.

Some students have also demanded reforms to the powerful monarchy, a highly taboo subject.

The court warned Penguin not to repeat his offences, which include allegations of sedition and violating the Emergency Decree to control the Covid-19 Coronavirus. His hearing is scheduled for September.

Parit stated shortly after his release, where he was greeted by dozens of supporters, that he plans to attend a major rally tomorrow at Democracy Monument in Bangkok. He did not state if he would specifically speak at the rally, which could potentially violate the terms of his bail.

Supporters protested his arrest heavily in what they described as “a peaceful manner” at both the police station where he was detained last night and at a court appearance this morning. Nearly 400 uniformed Thai police were present watching the situation closely.

Parit told reporters he’d been ordered not to re-offend as a condition of his bail, but the court agreed he could take part in tomorrow’s rally at Democracy Monument. After reciting a 10 point call for monarchy reform issued earlier this week by 1 of the student groups, Parit said:

“My arrest must not be wasted, people must talk more publicly about the Monarchy. We have lifted the ceiling, there is no lowering it now.”

Thailand’s monarchy is protected by a strict lèse-majesté law that punishes anyone who offends the Monarch or his family, but the PM said earlier this year that the king has asked for it not be used.

Prayuth appealed for national unity earlier this week but also said some of the student activist demands on the Monarchy “went too far.”

2 other activists were arrested last week and later released on charges similar to Parit’s, and Human Rights Watch said the criminal court has issued arrest warrants for 12 others for organising the July 18 rally.

SOURCES: UK Reuters | The Pattaya News

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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.

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    Toby Andrews

    August 16, 2020 at 12:03 pm

    They cannot take him for a one way ride to the jungle when the students have their pictures and Amnesty international are on the case.
    Any news on the Thai protester that was grabbed of the streets of Phnom Penh awhile ago?

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Protests

5 protesters to be charged over a rally in front of the Thai Army’s headquarters

The Thaiger

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5 protesters to be charged over a rally in front of the Thai Army’s headquarters | The Thaiger

With impeccable timing, Nang Loeng police have summoned 5 protest leaders to appear before the Special Prosecutor’s Office at the Dusit District Court in Bangkok. They will be formally charged over their roles in a protest in front of the Army’s headquarters on July 20. At the time it followed an online exchange from an Army official criticising the students who had been protesting at the Democracy Monument days before.

The protest targeted Colonel Nusra Vorapatratorn, deputy spokesperson of the Army. Posting on her Facebook page about the Saturday protest, the Colonel said that rally’s participants should “focus on doing their jobs rather than joining the protest.” The Colonel later deleted the social media post.

Another army spokesman, Colonel Winthai Suvaree, spoke to the media at the time and stated that Nusra “had expressed her personal opinion” and that “she is no longer the deputy spokesperson”.

After protesting outside the Army over the contents of the post, 5 protest leaders face official charges of “violating the Emergency Decree, the Traffic Act and use of loudspeakers in public without permission. The 5 protagonists facing charges are human rights lawyer Anon Nampa, Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak, Piyarath “Toto” Jongthep, Suwanna Tarnlek and Panupong Jardnok (Mike Rayong).

All 5 deny the charges and say they will defend their roles in court.

The charges follow a weekend of protests, with up to some 30,000 people gathering in the Bangkok rain to rally against the government and confirm a 10-point manifesto which includes demands to reform Thai politics and the country’s monarchy. Specially the demands include the dissolution of the Thai parliament, standing down of the current PM and a new constitution to replace the 2017 Thai charter.

Today the Fine Arts Department has also says it will file charges of “trespassing on an archaeological site” after protesters yesterday embedded a symbolic brass plaque to replace another plaque that dates back to the 1932 Siam Revolution (when a bloodless coup overthrew the ‘absolute monarchy’ in Thailand). That plaque mysteriously disappeared in 2017.

The protesters responded this afternoon by saying that Sanam Luang is not an archaeological site, but a “public space for recreation and for vendors and hawkers”.

Following on from the support of the crowd over the weekend, the protesters are planning to stage another protest in front of Parliament this Thursday. A House debate on constitutional amendments is due to start this Wednesday.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Thailand

Protesters’ plaque damaged historical site – Thai Fine Arts Department

Caitlin Ashworth

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Protesters’ plaque damaged historical site – Thai Fine Arts Department | The Thaiger
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The Thai Fine Arts Department claim the pro-democracy protesters, who installed a symbolic brass plaque in an area next to the Grand Palace yesterday morning, broke the law. The department filed a complaint saying the installation of the plaque damaged a historic site, a violation of the Archaeological Site Act.

Protesters cemented the plaque in the perimeter of the Royal Field, known locally as Sanam Luang. It read “At this place the people have expressed their will, that this country belongs to the people and is not the property of the monarch as they have deceived us.”

Sanam Luang is a registered archaeological site. Entering the area to install a plaque without permission is an offence under the Historical Sites, Archaeological Objects, Art Objects and National Museum Act 1961, according to the department’s director general Prateep Phengtako.

“Those who invade a historic site or destroy or depreciate it can face up to 7 years in prison and a fine of up to 700,000 baht.”

The department says since the plaque was illegally installed at Sanam Luang as part of the weekend’s protests.

“It is considered destruction and depreciation of a historic site.

Less than 24 hours after the plaque was installed, it was removed and covered with concrete. The plaque was to replace a brass plaque that commemorated the end of Siam’s absolute monarchy and the introduction of constitutional democracy for Thailand in 1932. The original plaque mysteriously disappeared in 2017 and was replaced with a new plaque with a pro-monarchist slogan.

The Fine Arts Department made no comment at the time of the removal of the old historical plaque in 2017.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Thailand

Protesters place plaque declaring Thailand “belongs to the people”

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Protesters place plaque declaring Thailand “belongs to the people” | The Thaiger

Protesters today have placed a plaque, in the area next to the Grand Palace, declaring Thailand “belongs to the people”. The declaration comes after anti-government sentiment has risen prompting rallies to take place in the capital hoping to oust the government and demand constituional changes. The plaque was cemented in the perimeter of the Royal Field, known locally as Sanam Luang, reading, “At this place the people have expressed their will: that this country belongs to the people and is not the property of the monarch as they have deceived us.”

The provocative wording is likely to elicit a response, probably much the same as the commemorative plaque it replaced, which mysteriously vanished in 2017. The missing plaque, embedded in the Royal Plaza, commemorated the 1932 Siam Revolution when citizens led a bloodless coup against the out-of-country monarch, and declared the new “Thailand” as a constitutional democracy.

The removed plaque was replaced with one bearing a pro-monarchist slogan and remains in place now.

The protests and plaque come despite a long-standing lese majeste law which makes it illegal for anyone to criticise the monarchy or the Royal Family. However, government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri noted that the police would not use violence against the protesters, but it was up to them to determine and prosecute any illegal speech.

The protesters swarmed Bangkok’s historic Thammasat University Tha Prachan Campus yesterday calling for the ousting of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, former coup leader and now current PM.

Police stayed back from the protest and didn’t intervene. Police and security wore coloured bandanas tied around their necks and were reportedly unarmed. Neither the police or the Palace has issued a statement in regards to the current events as of yet.

The Thaiger will have a full video report in tomorrow’s Thailand News Today. Here’s the most recent episode.

SOURCE: VOA News

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