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Police pinch “Penguin” ahead of student rally

Jack Burton

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Police pinch “Penguin” ahead of student rally | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai PBS World
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Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak, the outspoken leader of recent student protests, was arrested yesterday as tensions mount ahead of a major pro-democracy rally planned for tomorrow afternoon in Bangkok. He faces multiple charges, including sedition. The arrest was made as the Thammasat University student prepared to join a pro-democracy event at the campus in Nonthaburi.

After a policeman read out the arrest warrant, 4 plainclothes officers physically dragged him into an unmarked car, when he refused to go. Dozens of people used their phones to take videos, which were posted to Twitter, where #SaveParit started trending instantly, attracting more than 1.5 million tweets as of 9:30pm.

Parit was taken to Samran Rat police station, and faces charges including sedition, assault and “holding an event that could spread a disease”. Dozens of supporters gathered outside the station in the rain to demand his release. They cheered when he appeared briefly in a second storey window and waved.

The allegations stem not from yesterday’s demonstration, which was held despite a last-minute ban by the university, but from a rally staged by the Free Youth movement at Democracy Monument on July 18. It was the first major protest against the government since the easing of restrictions imposed to stem the coronavirus outbreak. Parit is also reported to be facing a lèse-majesté charge, but it was not included in yesterday’s charge sheet.

The Free Youth and Free People movements issued a statement demanding Parit’s immediate release, saying the police action showed the intention of authorities to intimidate critics of the current government. Shortly after the arrest, a number of people and groups, including Thammasat University itself, offered to help Parit seek bail.

The arrest comes a week after the seizures of human rights lawyer Arnon Nampha and Rayong student activist Panupong “Mike Jadnok, who are charged with the same offences as Parit. They are currently free on bail after the court declined a police request last Saturday to hold them for 12 days.

One of the conditions of their bail is that they refrain from political acts similar to those that led to their original charges. Police say they have already breached that condition and have petitioned the court to withdraw bail. A hearing is scheduled for September 3. Panupong was at the Samran Rat police station on Friday night to show support for Paritt.

Political tensions have been rising all week as students continue to press demands including the dissolution of Parliament, the end of intimidation against critics of the government, and the drafting of a new Constitution. The potential for confrontation has been increasing since Monday, when thousands who rallied at Thammasat University heard speakers announce an unprecedented 10 point manifesto calling for reform of the Monarchy under the Constitution.

PM Prayut Chan-o-cha said that while people have the right to free expression, dragging the Monarchy into the debate was out of line. He has also ordered an investigation into the funding of the Thammasat event, which included elaborate audio-visual displays.

Progressive Movement leader Thanathorn Juangroongreangkit said yesterday that the protesters’ demands should be on the table for talks, as crackdowns will not solve the country’s political problems. He called for all sides to be open minded about finding a solution and criticised Prayut for a lack of sincerity. The prime minister earlier said he wanted to set up a forum to listen to what the students had to say, but now the authorities have been brought in to tame them, according to the former leader of the now-dissolved Future Forward Party.

SOURCES: Chiang Rai Times | Bangkok Post

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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.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    August 15, 2020 at 2:46 pm

    Cmon Penquin the prime minister might be uncomfortable about arresting demonstrators for democracy, but we don’t agree.
    Come on to the Samran Rats police station where a few rats will tap you gently on the kneecaps to ensure your attitude adjustment.

  2. Avatar

    Edy F.

    August 15, 2020 at 4:18 pm

    The disease they dread is an epidemic of revolt and consciousness. Covid19 is only an excuse for more dictature. But people are awakening all over the world. They cannot stop this. They shall not pass !

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Bangkok

Bangkok nightclub busted for underage drinking

Caitlin Ashworth

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Bangkok nightclub busted for underage drinking | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thairath

A Bangkok nightclub was raided last night when police arrested numerous underage drinkers after city officials received a complaint about “unlawful assembly”. Police say many of the 50 people at the nightclub were under Thailand’s legal drinking age of 20 years old. They added that the patrons at the venue did not abide by Covid-19 prevention rules like wearing a mask, social distancing, and that the venue’s management didn’t limit the number of people at a social gathering.

The venue, known as “Peak” in Bangkok’s Lak Si district, north of the city centre, was ordered by police to close down because it served alcohol to underage customers and the venue did not abide by Covid-19 prevention measures.

Police raided the venue and were then waiting outside as partygoers tried to flee to provide free drug tests. Along with arresting the alleged underage drinkers, the police also arrested a young man for alleged drug use after a test for illicit drug use came up positive. Police did not specify what drugs they tested for. Reports also fail to say how many people were arrested, but Pattaya News says all the underage drinkers were arrested.

Palang Pracharath’s Bangkok MP Sira Jenjakha was reportedly also involved in the raid. He told Pattaya News that he is dedicated to eradicating social issues involving adolescents, and venues that serve alcohol to underage youth will face charges.

SOURCE: Pattaya News

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Protests

Protest leaders face charges for violating Thailand’s lèse majesté law and for installing the plaque

Caitlin Ashworth

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Protest leaders face charges for violating Thailand’s lèse majesté law and for installing the plaque | The Thaiger
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Leaders of the weekend’s pro-democracy protest in Bangkok are facing charges for violating Thailand’s lèse majesté laws and installing a symbolic plaque at a “registered historical site”. Police filed complaints against 10 to possibly more than 16 protesters.

It’s unclear how many protesters will be charged, but the Royal Thai Police spokesperson Piya Uthayo says charges will be pressed against those who “pulled the strings.” He says the Chanasongkhram Police have received several lèse majesté complaints. Under the lèse majesté law, it is illegal to insult or defame the Thai Monarch or royal family. Piya says police will take the strongest legal actions possible against those who undermined the Monarchy.

A lèse majesté complaint was filed by a leader of the pro-government “multi-coloured shirts movement” Tul Sittisomwong who said the protesters had “once again crossed the line,” according to the Bangkok Post.

“I don’t mind if they talked about politics, the prime minister or the constitution because they have the right to do so, but not about the monarchy.”

The Bangkok Post reports that around 10 protesters will be charged with violating the Public Assembly Act and Criminal Code while 4 people will be charged with violating the lèse majesté law. Thai PBS estimates at least 16 people face charges for violating the lèse majesté law and installing the plaque.

Protesters installed a plaque on the forecourt of the royal parade grounds, aka. Sanam Luang, next to the Grand Palace. The pro-democracy plaque symbolically renamed the area Sanam Ratsadon, or “People’s Ground”. The plaque disappeared and the spot was covered with concrete less than 24 hours after being embedded by the protesters early on Sunday morning. Police say they removed the plaque because it would be used as evidence against protest leaders.

The Fine Arts Department and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration filed complaints with police over the installation of the plaque, saying the protesters broke the law by causing damage to an archaeological site. The department says the plaque installation violates the Ancient Monuments, Antiques, Objects of Art and National Museums Act, as Sanam Luang is a historical site protected by law. The removal of another historic plaque in 2017, commemorating the Siam Revolution in 1932, when Thailand’s absolute monarchy was overthrown by a constitutional monarchy, was not reported by the same organisations.

Authorities also claim rally leaders broke into Thammasat University’s Tha Prachan campus and entered the grounds of Sanam Luang without permission. The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration also asked police to take action against protesters who destroyed barriers and fences at the university as well as the damage done when installing the plaque at Sanam Luang, according to Metropolitan Police Bureau deputy spokesperson (the concrete has already been replaced after being torn out of the cement sometime on the early hours of Monday morning).

“The protesters damaged BMA properties and violated the Act on the Maintenance of the Cleanliness and Orderliness of the Country.”

SOURCES: Thai PBS | Bangkok Post

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Crime

Police officer allegedly shot and killed a woman at a Bangkok temple

Caitlin Ashworth

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Police officer allegedly shot and killed a woman at a Bangkok temple | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thairath

A police officer allegedly shot and killed a woman making merit at a Bangkok temple yesterday. The 35 year old police officer, Siriwan Sumredsilpa, turned herself in to police. Siriwan allegedly approached the 39 year old woman from behind and shot her 4 times in the head. She was making merit that morning at the Nimmanoradee Temple in Bangkok around 7am yesterday morning.

The victim, Linlada Phattanphan, went to the temple that morning with her maid and roommate, 52 year old Maneerat Srithornrat. As the 2 of them were about to head home, a woman – around 35 to 40 years old – came up behind Linlada and shot her multiple times at a close range, the maid told police.

Surveillance camera footage shows the shooter wearing a cap and face mask. The video shows the shooter getting out of a vehicle parked in a black SUV next to the victim’s car right when Linlada was about to drive home. The alleged shooter then then fled the scene.

Police say the shooter grabbed Linlada’s hands and neck before firing the gun. When officers from the Phasi Charoen Police Station arrived at the scene, they found Linlada on the ground laying next to her car in a pool of blood. A forensic team from the Siriraj Hospital responded to the scene and said the woman was shot with 9mm bullets.

Siriwan went to the Sriprachan Police Station in Suphanburi province later that afternoon and allegedly confessed to the shooting. Police say she shot Linlada due to a personal dispute. The Phasi Charoen Police Station is still investigating.

SOURCE: Pattaya News

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