To whom it may concern at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights,
Today, the Thai Alliance for Human Rights, is immediately concerned for Thai citizen Ekachai Hongkangwan, arrested today, June 24, 2017, in Bangkok, while conducting an act of civil disobedience against the junta government of Prayuth Chan-ocha. But more generally, we want the United Nations and the world to recognize that something very sinister is going on in Thailand, menacing a wide range of human rights.
Some crucial background for understanding the arrest of Ekachai Hongkangwan: The day June 24, used to be celebrated as National Day in Thailand: on this day in 1932, Thai revolutionaries, in an almost bloodless revolution, ended absolute monarchy in Thailand. This day used to be widely and officially celebrated for many years, but over time, with royalist sentiments gaining ground, pro-democracy activists have taken over responsibility for publicly remembering this day. This year, which is the 85th anniversary of the revolution, the junta warned that the traditional National Day ceremonies could not be held.
Indeed it would be impossible for traditional National Day ceremonies to be held this year because the traditional ceremonies center around cleaning a bronze plaque, the size of a dinner plate, marking the spot on which revolutionaries announced the end of absolute monarchy 85 years ago; and in April, this plaque was stolen from the middle of a busy street where it was embedded, at a time when all the many security cameras in the area were conveniently off; and it was replaced with a plaque that doesn’t even mention the end of absolute monarchy and instead contains a royalist message about Thais with shining faces being faithful to the monarchy. All those asking for the theft to be investigated are, at least temporarily, arrested, and the junta has begged everyone to forget about the plaque and look to the future.
According to Pravit Rojanaphruk, of Khaosod English news, today “Ekachai Hongkangwan, a 42-year-old activist working with political prisoners and lese majeste detainees, contacted a reporter at 8:48am to say he had been taken away by half a dozen police inside a nondescript van and was about to enter the 11th Military Circle in Bangkok, where opponents of the military regime are held in a special prison on the army base.” Continue reading