Rayong Activists Charged for Protesting Prayut, Virus Blunder

Nutchanon Payakaphan and Panupong Jadnok raise banners condemning the government's handling of the coronavirus on July 15, 2020.
Nutchanon Payakaphan and Panupong Jadnok raise banners condemning the government's handling of the coronavirus on July 15, 2020.

BANGKOK — Police on Thursday said two activists were charged with violating the Emergency Decree after they attempted to raise banners condemning PM Prayut Chan-ocha during his visit to Rayong province.

Police spokesman Kissana Phathanacharoen said two men, identified as Nutchanon Payakaphan and Panupong Jadnok, were arrested Wednesday for failing to comply with police orders. The pair, who said they were there to protest Prayut’s handling of the coronavirus, said they did not do anything wrong.

“I didn’t find my action to resist police functions,” Panupong said. “When I asked why they were taking me, they didn’t say anything. They took me into the car and left me without taking me into custody, so I walked out. How could that be seen as an escape?”

The activist also said he filed a complaint against the officers who arrested him for negligence and assault.  Nutchanon and Panupong later submitted a petition to the House Committee on Human rights Thursday afternoon.


In a video of yesterday’s event, both of the activists are seen forcibly removed from the curbside minutes before PM Prayut motorcade arrived.

“Don’t touch me! Tell me first why are you arresting me?” Panupong said as he was being taken away by police. “Are you trying to press me a charge?”

“No, no. Just go first,” a man who appeared to be a commanding officer replied.

The pair were preparing to greet Prayut with signs which read “The longer you stay, the longer the country is screwed-up” and “Don’t let your guard down, my ass.”

The activists said they were later dropped off far away from the Prime Minister’s visit route. They also showed bruises to reporters, saying they were subject to police violence during the arrest.

“Look at what the officers did to citizens,” Panupong said.

But Col. Kissana said officers were performing their duties under the Disease Control Act since the Prime Minister could be at risk of infection from the protesters.


“Officers were using their power under the Disease Control Act to order two men to disperse as part of the security operation for the PM,” Kissana said. “The PM is a VIP.”

PM Prayut briefly visited Rayong province Wednesday evening to inspect health measures in the wake of a controversy over mishandling of quarantine measures.

No legal action has been taken so far against those responsible for a group of Egyptian airmen, who were allowed to leave their quarantine hotel for a shopping trip in the city during their stop in Thailand. One of the pilots later tested positive for the coronavirus.