Youth activist Tantawan Tuatulanon arrested for challenging royal motorcadesLegacy

A 22 year old activist, Tantawan Tuatulanon, attracted attention when she found herself in the news for honking her car horn at a royal motorcade on February 4. Following this incident, she conducted an opinion poll on February 10, questioning if royal motorcades were a cause of traffic issues. This action led to charges being filed against her for causing a public disturbance.

Before these events, she had conducted a similar poll on February 8, 2022, querying if royal motorcades were a source of traffic problems.

A video clip that surfaced on social media on February 7 showed Tantawan and a male companion honking their car horn at the royal motorcade of HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn on an expressway in Bangkok. The footage showed that the procession was not disrupting traffic and the pair was attempting to merge into the motorcade’s lane, which led to an altercation with a police officer.

Youth activist Tantawan Tuatulanon arrested for challenging royal motorcades | News by Thaiger
Photo courtesy of MGR Online

Later on, Tantawan and her fellow activists conducted the opinion poll at Siam Station of the BTS Skytrain, situated in front of Siam Paragon, asking passersby if they considered royal motorcades a nuisance, reported Bangkok Post.

Background and activism journey

The daughter of Sommai and Kalong Tuatulanont, Tantawan revealed to the press that she had studied marketing at a university in Singapore and returned to Thailand during the Covid-19 pandemic. Her interest in Thai politics was piqued after following the news about the now-defunct Future Forward Party, which has since been rebranded as the Move Forward Party (MFP), in 2020. Her first protest attendance was in August of the same year.

Subsequently, Tantawan registered as a volunteer protest guard with the WeVo group, led by Piyarat ‘Toto’ Chongthep. She also joined the Mok Luang Rim Nam group, led by Sophon Suraritthamrong, and initiated a movement following the disappearance of Wanchalearm Satsaksit, another political advocate who faced lese majeste charges and had sought refuge in Cambodia. She then enrolled in Ramkhamhaeng University as a law student after leaving her previous university in Singapore.

Tantawan has been accused of violating the lese majeste law, or Section 112 of the Criminal Code, twice. The first instance occurred during the sticker poll at the Siam Paragon department store on February 8, 2022, after which she was granted bail. The second instance was when she hosted a livestream on her Facebook page when members of the royal family arrived at Ratchadamnoen Avenue on March 5, 2022.

Her bail was revoked on April 20, 2023, as the court found that she had attempted unauthorised access into the arrival area and had shared a dubious Facebook post on her account. During her detention at the Central Women’s Correctional Institution, she undertook a 37-day-long hunger strike until Pita Limjaroenrat, MFP MP-list and then-leader, bailed her out. The court ordered Pita to monitor her conduct. Tantawan was taken into custody yesterday.

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Author: Mitch Connor