6 June 2024

Progressive Movement core member Pannika Wanich says she has been banned from renewing her passport, following Phaya Thai police’s order to prevent the renewal of the passports of three core members of the movement, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, Piyabutr Saengkanokkul and herself.

The letter said that the three are suspected of having committed sedition (Section 116 of the Thai penal code).

After a meeting with Phaya Thai police today (Thursday), Pannika told the media that the police have promised to retract the letter issued to the Department of Consular Affairs, but it will be up to them how they wish to proceed. The department will be able to renew the passports if the police revoke the order.

According to Pannika, the police had explained that, because sedition is a matter of national security, if they did not issue such an order, they might have been considered negligent, adding that the letter was merely seeking cooperation and that the decision rests with the consular department.

Pannika went on to say “This is very surprising because, in the past 2-3 years, there have been around 1,800 political complaints. I would like to ask if everyone who has had such a complaint filed against them are having their passport rights suspended as well. Where is our right to travel?” she asked.

“I would like to ask if police’s action is an act of discrimination against those charged with political crimes or those who criticise the government. Apart from me, Thanathorn and Piyabutr, there are still many political activists, advocates and youths who have had renewal of their passports suspended in the same manner.” she added.

The three were charged with offences under Section 116 after former monk Suwit Thongprasert, who led the pro-government protests, complained that the trio committed sedition when they were members of now-defunct Future Forward Party. Prosecutors will announce their decision whether to pursue the cases on May 19th.

Previously, Progressive Movement leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit was indicted by public prosecutors on a lèse majesté charge and for violations of the Computer Crime Act for his livestream talk about the AstraZeneca vaccines, allegedly implicating the monarchy. The Criminal Court has, however, released him on 90,000-baht bail.