A Thai man was arrested yesterday after he protested against the lese majeste law by spraying the number 112 and an anarchy symbol on the wall of Wat Phra Kaew, also known as the Temple of Emerald Buddha in Bangkok. A 14 year old girl who operated the camera while livestreaming the man’s graffiti on social media was also detained.
The Twitter account of Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) posted a picture and video of the moment when Royal Palace Police Station officers arrested the man, identified as 24 year old Sutthawee Soikham, in front of Wat Phra Kaew at 5.40pm.
Pictures and a video show one police officer forcibly pressing Sutthawee’s head to the ground while his hands are in handcuffs. The wall behind him reveals the anarchy symbol and the number 112 which is crossed out. The number 112 is in reference to Section 112 also known as the lese majeste law.
Sutthawee is reported to be a member of the Free Arts group, which comprises several Thai artists who express their political opinions through their artwork.
According to the TLHR, Sutthawee was taken to the Royal Palace Police Station for prosecution. The 14 year old girl who recorded Sutthawee’s graffiti was not charged but later followed her friend to the police station and was held.
TLHR reported that the girl was charged with violating Section 112 of the Criminal Law in January. She is reportedly the youngest person ever to be charged under the lese majeste law.
The police questioned both suspects until 10pm before they issued two charges against them including:
Section 32 of the Ancient Monuments, Antiques, Objects of Art and National Museum Act: damaging, destroying, or causing depreciation in value to the ancient monument. The punishment will be imprisonment for up to seven years, a fine of up to 700,000 baht, or both
Section 12 of the Cleanliness and Orderliness of the City Act: scratching, writing, and spray painting walls along public roads or public places. The punishment will be a fine of up to 5,000 baht
Wat Phra Kaew is located on the grounds of the Grand Palace in the heart of Bangkok. The temple is considered one of the most sacred and important temples in Thailand. The temple is home to the Emerald Buddha statue made of green jade, which is highly respected by locals.