Mr Jatupat Boonpattaraksa, known as Pai ‘Dao Din,’ a prominent student activist based in Northeastern Thailand, attended an evidence and witness deposition at the Khon Kaen Military Court in Khon Kaen, Northeastern Thailand, on 27 October 2016. Jatupat is under trial for his political gathering with other 6 Dao Din student activists on 22 May 2015 at the Khon Kaen Democracy Monument, by holding signs deemed opposing the coup and the junta government’s administration. The alleged acts violate the Order of the Head of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) no.3/2015, prohibiting gatherings of five or more individuals for political purposes. The plaintiff and the defender’s lawyers presented their list of evidence and witnesses. The Court then scheduled the hearing of the plaintiff’s witnesses on 30 January 2017.

Pai Dao Din and his lawyer, Anon Numpa, with international observation
Pai Dao Din and his lawyer, Anon Numpa, with international observation

At 8 am on 27 October 2016, the Khon Kaen Military, located in the 23rd Military Circle or Sri Patcharin Camp in Northeastern Thailand, held a deposition of witness and evidence on the case of Mr Jatupat ‘Pai’ Boonpattaraksa’s breaching the Head of the NCPO Order no.3/2015, which bans political gatherings of five persons or more, by organising a gathering at the Democracy Monument in Khon Kaen on 22 May 2015 to commemorate the coup and challenge the junta’s ruling. Upon reviewing the evidence, Jatupat proposed a question to the Court regarding the relevance of his alleged act of ‘holding a three-finger salute,’ a symbol of defiance against the NCPO and the government, in the plaintiff’s statement to the case. In response, the Court suggested Jatupat ask the plaintiff. Following the examination, the Court scheduled a hearing of the plaintiff’s witnesses on 30 January 2017.

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In commemoration of the coup staged by the NCPO on 22 May 2014, around 1 pm on 22 May 2015, Jatupat ‘Pai,’ together with 6 student activists, including Apiwat ‘Noi’ Soontararak, Panupong ‘Nice’ Sritananuwat, Payu Boonsophon, Supachai ‘Best’ Phuklongploy, Suvicha Tipangkorn, and Wasan Satesitti, organised a gathering at the Khon Kaen Democracy Monument to oppose the coup and the ruling military government. The group, known as Dao Din and later merged with student activists in Bangkok as New Democracy Movement (NDM), held a cloth banner read “Anti-Coup,” and discussed key post-coup issues, such as gold mining, water resource management, petroleum and other energy sources, eviction resulted from Forest and Land Act, among others. In addition, the activists claimed that the NCPO’s policies and administration had reflected the government’s accommodating the elites and capitalists’ benefits, as well as the absence of promotion and protection of rights, freedom, and community rights. The seven were accused by Col Surasak Samranbamrung, Head of the Intelligence Division at Sri Patcharin Camp who also acts as the plaintiff’s witness.

Commemoration of the 2014 Coup at Democracy Monument in Khon Kaen
Commemoration of the 2014 Coup at Democracy Monument in Khon Kaen

On 19 August 2016, Jatupat was released from the Provincial Court of Phu Khiao, located in a province next to Khon Kaen ‘Chaiyapum,’ on bail after 18 days in detention with 13 days of hunger strike related to his violation of the Referendum Act in August. The police from the Khon Kaen Municipality Police Station then presented an arrest warrant issued since 2015 to sequester and transfer Jatupat to a court in the 23rd Military Circle in Khon Kaen. At around 6 pm, after the opening hours of the Military Court and the Prosecutor’s Office in Sri Patcharin Camp, a prosecutor issued an order to prosecute Jatupat. This was followed by the Military Court accepting to hear the case, and ordering a remand for Jatupat at around 9 pm. The preliminary hearing of testimony was scheduled on 22 September 2016, and later altered to 23 August 2016.

After the hearing, Jatupat received a bail for 10,000 Baht (approx. 300 USD), under conditions: not to leave Thailand,  not to participate or organise political activities, and not to incite the general public in manners that compromise national security. However, the Court did not grant Jatupat’s parents permission to attend the hearing, only his lawyer was allowed to present him in court. As for the other 6 Dao Din student activists who were charged for the same accusations, the prosecutor has not yet scheduled the hearing of prosecution order. Therefore, Jatupat is facing trial under the military court alone.

Despite the recent enactment of the Head of the NCPO Order no.55/2016, ceasing the practice of trying civilian cases in military courts, Jatupat is under trial in a military court, since his alleged acts were committed prior to the issuing date of such order. The Order does not apply to finalised cases, pending cases, and those committed before 12 September 2016, resulting in about 517 persons currently being tried under military courts. Jatupat will face a maximum of six months’ imprisonment and/or a maximum fine of 10,000 Baht (approx. 300 USD) if found guilty.

Further, Jatupat is under trial for his offences of Article 61 of the Constitution Referendum Act, prohibiting the dissemination of documents which are inconsistent with the truth or violent and inciting to the general public, owing to his distributing leaflets with anti-referendum messages in a market in Phu Khiao, located in a Northeastern province Chaiyapum, on 6 August 2016, together with the other defendant, Mr Wasin ‘Palm’ Prommanee, a student at Suranari University in Nakhon Ratchasima, Northeastern Thailand. Jatupat is currently under trial in a civilian court. On 26 October 2016, the Phu Khiao Court held a deposition of witnesses and evidence. Given the ongoing defendant’s appeal to acquit the case, the Court rescheduled to 20 January 2017 at 2 pm. If found guilty, Jatupat shall be punishable by one to five years imprisonment and a fine not exceeding 200,000 Baht (approx. 5700 USD).

In addition, Jatupat is facing one other prosecution of offences related to violation of the Head of the NCPO Order no.3/2015 due to his organising a public discussion on the Draft Constitution, “Talk for Freedom: the Draft Constitution and Isaan People,” held on 31 July 2016 in Khon Kaen. The case has a total number of 11 alleged offenders who are scheduled to meet a military prosecutor at the Khon Kaen Prosecutor’s Office in Sri Patcharin Camp on 16 November 2016 at 10 am. The 11 individuals will face trial in the Khon Kaen Military Court if indicted.