Nine arrested after violent confrontation at Bangkok police station over detained teen
Nine individuals found themselves under arrest following a brutal clash outside a police station in Bangkok involving law enforcement and a group supporting a 15-year-old girl detained for over 40 days on allegations of royal defamation.
The arrestees, comprising seven men and two women, included Tantawan “Tawan” Tuatulanon and Orawan “Bam” Phuphong. Earlier this year, the two individuals had engaged in a 52-day hunger strike in a bid to secure the release of political prisoners and call for the abolition of Section 112 of the Criminal Code, pertaining to the lese-majeste law.
In the late afternoon, protesters congregated at the Samran Rat police station in Phra Nakhon district. They were keen to communicate with those in charge after discovering that the station’s officers were contemplating leveling an additional charge of defacing an archaeological site against the incarcerated teenager, known as Thanalop or “Yok.”
Unsuccessful in their endeavor after two hours, demonstrators proceeded to douse and spray red paint upon the walls, steps, police vehicles, and a poster featuring an image of national police chief Gen Damrongsak Kittiprapas. A protester went a step further, smashing a glass door at the station.
In response to the escalating situation, approximately 50 crowd control police were deployed. Officers armed with riot shields attempted to restore order, but their actions resulted in a standoff, followed by skirmishes. In the chaos, nine individuals were apprehended and taken to three separate police stations.
This incident occurred just days before a court is scheduled to rule whether Yok will face an additional 15 days of detention.
She was initially arrested on March 28, the same day a 24-year-old male was apprehended for spray-painting a “No 112” message on the Temple of the Emerald Buddha’s wall in Bangkok. He is confronting charges of vandalizing an archaeological site and lese-majeste.
The police claim they had a warrant for Thanalop’s arrest due to accusations of her insulting the monarchy during an October 2022 rally in front of Bangkok City Hall, when she was only 14 years old. At the event, demonstrators called for the freedom of political detainees and an end to royal defamation cases.
Following her arrest on March 28, Thanalop was detained overnight at Samran Rat station and subsequently appeared in juvenile and family court the next day. She refused to acknowledge the proceedings and turned her back to the judge. As a result, she was ordered to remain in detention at the Ban Pranee Juvenile Vocational Training Center for Girls in Nakhon Pathom.
According to the Juvenile and Family Court Procedure Act, a minor must be released from detention unless the prosecutor files charges or requests a postponement within 30 days. In late April, the prosecution requested an additional 15-day detention period for Thanalop, which the court granted.
Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) explain that the law accommodates up to four 15-day delays in cases where the offense carries a prison sentence exceeding five years.
Individuals convicted of lese-majeste infractions can face jail sentences between three and 15 years. Sentences can be compounded for multiple offenses.
TLHR data up to April 30 this year reveals that 1,902 people have been prosecuted for political participation and expression since the inception of the Free Youth pro-democracy protests in July 2020. At least 242 face lese-majeste charges, while 130 stand accused of sedition reports Bangkok Post.
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