Urgent Interventions

Thailand: Arbitrary detention of pro-democracy youth activists and threats against TLHR

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Thailand 200224 ประเทศไทยURGENT APPEAL - THE OBSERVATORY

THA 001 / 0224 / OBS 009
Arbitrary detention /
Judicial harassment /

February 20, 2024

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Thailand.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed about the arbitrary detention, judicial harassment and physical attacks against pro-democracy youth activists Ms Tantawan 'Tawan' Tuatulanon and Mr Nutanon 'Frank' Chaimahabut, as well as the threats against Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), a member organisation of FIDH. Tantawan Tuatulanon is a pro-democracy student activist associated with pro-democracy groups Draconis Revolution and Thalu Wang (Shattering the Palace) who has advocated for the abolition of Article 112 of the Thai Criminal Code (“lèse-majesté”) and the reform of the Thai monarchy. As a former We Volunteer member, Nutanon Chaimahabut helped ensure safety of participants during many pro-democracy protests.

On February 13, 2024, Tantawan Tuatulanon and Nutanon Chaimahabut were arrested by the police in front of the Bangkok Criminal Court and brought to the Din Daeng police station in Bangkok for questioning in connection with their protest during the blockade of road traffic for the passage of a royal motorcade on February 4, 2024. Tantawan Tuatulanon faces charges under Articles 116 (sedition), 368 (failure to comply with official’s order), and 397 (public nuisance) of the Thai Criminal Code, as well as Article 14(3) of the Computer Crimes Act B.E. 2550 (2007). Nutanon Chaimahabut faces the same charges as Tantawan Tuatulanon, with additional charges under Article 136 (insulting an official) of the Criminal Code and Article 14 (excessive use of vehicle’s sound signal) of the Land Traffic Act B.E. 2522 (1979).

On February 14, 2024, the Bangkok Criminal Court approved the detention request by the police for 12 days at the investigative stage — until February 25, 2024. TLHR, which represents the two activists, submitted bail requests, which were denied by the Court. If convicted, Tantawan Tuatulanon could face up to seven years, one month, and 10 days in prison while Nutanon Chaimahabut could face up to eight years, one month, and 10 days in prison. At the time of publication of this Urgent Appeal, Tantawan Tuatulanon was detained at the Central Women's Correctional Institution, and Nutanon Chaimahabut was detained at the Bangkok Remand Prison.

On the same day, at approximately 2:30pm, TLHR received a call from an unidentified man who asked for the contacts of the lawyers who represented Tantawan Tuatulanon and Nutanon Chaimahabut. When TLHR staff did not provide the information, the man said he and his group would raid TLHR office using weapons.

On February 15, 2024, at approximately 1:00pm, an unidentified man drove his car to the TLHR office gate in Bangkok, insisted on being allowed into the office premises, and asked for “documents” and the names of TLHR staff.

On February 16, 2024, a TLHR lawyer filed a complaint to the Sutthisan police station in Bangkok concerning the above-mentioned threats.

The accusations against Tantawan Tuatulanon and Nutanon Chaimahabut stem from their protest on February 4, 2024, when their car was stopped for the motorcade of Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, the sister of King Maha Vajiralongkorn, on an expressway in Bangkok. Tantawan Tuatulanon did a live broadcast on her Facebook account showing their honking and ensuing altercation with police officers who were blocking traffic to make way for the motorcade. Following the incident, the police filed a complaint against the two activists for “causing a public disturbance,” a misdemeanor under Article 397 of the Criminal Code.

On February 10, 2024, Tantawan Tuatulanon and a small group of other activists from Thalu Wang gathered at the Siam Bangkok Mass Transit System (BTS) station in Pathumwan District, central Bangkok, to read a statement about the February 4 incident and conduct a public opinion poll about royal motorcades. The peaceful activists were physically attacked by members of ultra-royalist groups. Ten activists, two citizen journalists, and another person observing the gathering were injured in the attack. The activists subsequently filed complaints with the Pathumwan police against their attackers.

On February 11, 2024, in a Facebook post, Tantawan Tuatulanon apologised for the February 4 disturbance, and denied that she tried to interfere with the royal motorcade.

The Observatory recalls that Tantawan Tuatulanon has already been charged with various criminal offenses, including violating Article 112 of the Thai Criminal Code in connection with two cases: a public opinion poll about royal motorcades, which she conducted at Siam Paragon in central Bangkok on February 8, 2022; and a live Facebook broadcast allegedly critical of the King along the planned route of a royal motorcade in Bangkok on March 5, 2022. She was detained several times in relation to these cases before being released on bail. Prosecution in both cases is ongoing.

The Observatory further recalls that Nutanon Chaimahabut experienced a violent arrest by the authorities on August 7, 2021, while he attended a protest at Bangkok’s Democracy Monument.

The Observatory notes with concern that between November 24, 2020, and February 19, 2024, 264 people, including many human rights defenders and 20 minors, were charged under Article 112 of the Criminal Code. Thirteen of them are currently detained pending trial, and seven more serving prison sentences. Two individuals are detained at a youth detention center under Article 112 for acts allegedly committed when they were minors.

The Observatory strongly condemns the arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of Tantawan Tuatulanon and Nutanon Chaimahabut, which seem to be only aimed at punishing them for their legitimate exercise of their rights to freedom of expression.

The Observatory calls on the Thai authorities to immediately and unconditionally release them and all other arbitrarily detained human rights defenders in the country and to put an end to the judicial harassment against them.

The Observatory further condemns the threats and acts intimidation against TLHR, which seem to be only aimed at preventing the organisation and its members from carrying out their legitimate work as lawyers.

The Observatory calls on the Thai authorities to take all necessary measures to guarantee in all circumstance the safety of TLHR’s staff and to carry out an independent investigation into the above-mentioned threats.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Thailand asking them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Tantawan Tuatulanon, Nutanon Chaimahabut, TLHR’s staff and lawyers, and all other human rights defenders and pro-democracy activists in Thailand;

ii. Immediately and unconditionally release Tantawan Tuatulanon and Nutanon Chaimahabut and all other human rights defenders and pro-democracy activists, since their detention is arbitrary as it seems to be merely aimed at punishing them for their legitimate and peaceful exercise of their rights to freedom of expression;

iii. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Tantawan Tuatulanon and Nutanon Chaimahabut and all other human rights defenders and pro-democracy activists in the country, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals;

iv. Carry out an immediate, through and impartial investigation into the threats against TLHR and its staff and lawyers, and bring the perpetrators to justice in accordance with international standards;

v. Guarantee in all circumstances the rights to freedom of expression and of peaceful assembly, as enshrined in international human right law, and particularly in Articles 19 and 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Thailand is a state party;

vi. Refrain from using Article 112 of the Criminal Code to target human rights defenders and pro-democracy activists.


  • Mr. Srettha Thavisin, Prime Minister of Thailand, Email:
  • Mr. Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, Email:
  • Mr. Tawee Sodsong, Minister of Justice of Thailand, Email:
  • General Songwit Noonpackdee, Commander in Chief of the Army, Email:
  • Pol Gen Damrongsak Kittiprapas, Commissioner-General of the Police, Email:
  • Ms. Pornprapai Ganjanarinte, National Human Rights Commissioner of Thailand, Email:,
  • H.E. Mrs. Suphatra Srimaitreephithak, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Thailand to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Email:
  • H.E. Mr. Sek Wannamethee, Ambassador, Ambassador of Thailand to Belgium and Luxembourg and Head of Mission of Thailand to the European Union, Belgium, Email:

Please also write to the diplomatic representatives of Thailand in your respective countries.


Paris-Geneva, February 20, 2024

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

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