UPDATE: Hours after this story was published and Yan Marchal’s lawyer got in touch with the police, the immigration said Marchal can continue to stay in Thailand and called the incident a “misunderstanding.”
BANGKOK — A longtime expat and politics commentator said Monday he was informed by the immigration bureau that he was to be deported for writing about the protests in Thailand on his Facebook.
Yan Eric Marchal, 47, said he was visiting the immigration’s “One Stop Service” center at Chamchuri Square to transfer his visa stamps to a new passport when the police told him the visas were already canceled, and they were going to deport him for the critical comments he made online.
“They told me ‘we already canceled your visa. You overstayed. You have to go,’” Marchal said by phone. “But I never received any notifications.”
Marchal is known for his social media posts that routinely criticize and mock PM Prayut Chan-o-cha’s administration. He also runs a public Facebook page where he posts comments about the protests, including references to the monarchy.
The French national said police let him take a look at a document detailing his deportation. The paper reportedly mentioned his Facebook posts that referenced the royal motorcade that pushed through a crowd of anti-government protesters in Bangkok on Oct. 14.
“I knew there’s a risk,” Marchal said. “I’m emotionally okay, but have to think what to do next.”
Marchal, who has lived in Thailand for over 15 years, had a brush with the authorities in June 2019 after he posted a video parody of PM Prayut’s ballad “Returning Happiness to the People.”
Police at the time asked Marchal to remove the video, but did not pursue any legal actions against him.
In late August, Marchal spoke to Khaosod English in an interview for a story on whether foreign nationals could face deportation if they take up activism in Thailand.
“Since we are here on a visa, it’s a risk that we face if they want to revoke it,” he said in the interview. “But I decide to be outspoken anyway because that is my nature.”