Front line Defenders_Update – Student human rights defenders arrested

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Front line Defenders

26 June 2015

Update – Student human rights defenders arrested

On 26 June 2015, fourteen student activists, including seven human rights defenders from the Dao Din group, were arrested by the Thai police. The student human rights defenders and activists had been released on bail, following their original detention on 22 May 2015 for their participation in peaceful protests.

The seven student human rights defenders, Messrs Chatupat Boonyapatraksa,Anuwat Suntararak, Payu Boonsopon, Panupong Srithananuwat, Suvicha Tipangkorn, Supachai Pukrongploy and Wasant Satesit are members of the Dao Din group at Khon Kaen University. Dao Din is a human rights society engaged in peaceful action and protest against restrictions on human rights within Thailand. It focuses in particular on the repression of the right to freedom of assembly in the aftermath of the military coup which took place in 2014. The group also supports communities in upholding their rights in relation to alleged violations connected to development projects and extractive industries in the north-east of the country. The group has been recognised by the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand for its work.

On 26 June 2015, at 5.30 pm, the police arrested the seven student human rights defenders, along with seven other student activists at their safe house in Bangkok. They were then brought to the Phra Ratchawang Police Station for interrogation. It is now expected that police will take the students to the Bangkok military court and submit applications for their detention.

The human rights defenders were originally detained on 22 May 2015, after their staging of peaceful protests to mark the first anniversary of the military coup which took place in 2014. The protests also challenged forced evictions of rural communities in north-eastern Thailand. The human rights defenders were subsequently released on bail. In accordance with the conditions of their release, the members of Dao Din were ordered to appear at a police station in Khon Kaen province on 19 June 2015. The students refused to appear in protest at their initial arrest and their potential trial by military court, and on the same date publicly announced that they were in Loei province and ready to be arrested.

The seven Dao Din members face charges under National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) order no. 7/2557, which forbids political gatherings or assemblies of more than five people. They risk up to one year imprisonment and fines.

Front Line Defenders expresses its concern at the investigation and possible charges against the fourteen students, including the seven human rights defenders from Dao Din group. Front Line Defenders strongly believes that their original detention was solely motivated by their legitimate and peaceful exercise of their right to peaceful protest.

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