Activists demanding Pai Dao Din's release accused of contempt of court

Student activists from Khon Kaen University have been accused of contempt of court for participating in a peaceful gathering to demand Pai Dao Din’s release.  

On 17 March 2017, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) reported that activists from the activist Dao Din group, based in Khon Kaen University, and New Generation Citizens (NGC), another political activist group in the region, received a court notice.

The summons from the Director of the Administrative Office of Khon Kaen Provincial Court accuses them of contempt of court for gathering in front of the court on 10 February 2017 to demand the release of Jatuphat ‘Pai’ Boonpattararaksa, a law student and key member of the New Democracy Movement (NDM).

The activists accused are: Payu Boonsophon, and Chatmongkhon Chanchiawchan, 2 law students of Khon Kaen University who are members of the Dao Din group; Narongrit Upachan, a political science student from the same university and a member of the NGC, and a female activist who wish to conceal her identity. 

The court has ordered the activists to appear in court to hear charges against them on 24 April 2017.

Earlier on 13 March 2017, the Khon Kaen Provincial Court rejected a 700,000 baht bail bid by Jatuphat, reasoning that the activist had mocked the authority of the state without fear of the law and also faces other charges for his previous anti-junta political activities.

It was the seventh time that Jatuphat’s family had asked the court to free the activist to no avail.

Jatuphat is accused of violating Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the lèse majesté law, for sharing on his Facebook account a controversial biography of King Vajiralongkorn published by BBC Thai. He is the first person to be arrested for lèse majesté under the reign of the new King.

Shortly after he was arrested for lèse majesté on 3 December 2016, the court released him on bail. However, his bail was revoked on 22 December after he posted a satirical message mocking the authorities on his Facebook account. The message read, “Economy is poor but they (authorities) took my money for bail.”

Despite the fact that more than 2,000 people shared the same article on Facebook, he was the only one arrested for lèse majesté.

People assemble in front of the Ratchada Criminal Court, Bangkok, on 8 January 2017 to give moral support to Jatuphat ‘Pai’ Boonpattaraksa