Police continue program of intimidation aimed at activists and their families

Thai police are continuing a programme of harassment and intimidation against anti-government dissidents and members of the press by visiting homes unannounced and stalking relatives and friends of their targets.

Opposition MPs and activists have highlighted the abuse by the Royal Thai Police and told Thai Enquirer on Friday that these actions must stop.

According to Internet Law Reform Dialogue (iLaw), at least 18 activists and journalists, including Sirote Klampaiboon a prominent reporter for Voice TV, have been visited by the police at their house between January 1 and 24.

A university student protest group from Thammasat University, the United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration, on Wednesday filed a petition to the House Committee on Political Development, Mass Communications and Public Participation to ask for an investigation into the police.

They say many of those facing intimidation by security forces are not charged with any crime and should not be the subject of such intimidation.

Nattacha Boonchaiinsawat, an MP for the MFP and chair of the house committee said that such misuse of power, which is beyond the police’s jurisdiction, should not be happening in a democratic society.

She said young activists who organize political activity against the government in many provinces were the subject of intimidation.

“The police have been doing this continuously,” said Amarat Chokepamitkul, an MP of the Move Forward Party (MFP) and another member of the committee.

“They have not stopped, especially in rural areas,” she told Thai Enquirer by phone.

“What I believe is disgusting is when they visit the houses and they could not find the activist, they will psychologically harass their family or neighbors instead,” Amarat said.

“This could lead to social sanctions and endless questioning from neighbors who have been needlessly disturbed by the police,” she said.

She said what the officers usually do is ask the neighbors about the whereabouts and the daily activities of the activist and then told them to beware of the activist as a dangerous individual and a threat to national security.

Chartchai “Boy” Gaedam, an anti-coup activist and a protest leader from the Save Bang Kloi group told Thai Enquirer that the police have visited his house many times to the point that he installed a CCTV camera at his house in order to have evidence of these visits.

“They would come in a group with many officers, sometimes in plainclothes sometime in uniform, and they would knock on the doors and yell really loud to make sure that everyone around there can hear that they were there,” he said.

“If I am not there they would ask my girlfriend or my niece about my daily activities, what are the names of the people who live in the house, where do they work and then they will go one around the neighborhood to ask almost everyone they can ask about me,” he said.

Chartchai said he learned that different groups of police officers who visited his house would come from various jurisdictions, not only the local police.

Most of the plainclothes would act like goons while the officers in uniform would behave more like police officers but their line of questioning remains the same, he said.

“They will also post many warrants in front of the house to make it look like criminals are living there,” he said.

“This is emotionally affecting my family and people who live around me but I have been telling them that this is just a form of intimidation and the warrants are for political related charges and they have nothing to be afraid of,” he said.

Amarat told members of parliament on Wednesday about the police intimidation of activists and journalists and urged the National Human Rights Commission to investigate these unlawful and unconstitutional activities which violate human rights and press freedom.

She said the government is doing this to try and intimidate dissidents and journalists who disagree with them into silence.


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