Updated: The rising toll

10 03 2021

While most of the world watches Myanmar and counts the toll of dead, injured and arrested, the regime in Bangkok is quietly and ruthlessly decapitating its opponents.

There are several efforts by local NGOs to tally the arrests and charges, but it is a difficult task as the police and military often operate secretly and not all cases come to public attention.

Prachatai has tried to bring this together. It says Amnesty International has released a statement claiming the arrest and/or charging of “382 protest leaders and demonstrators in 207 cases since 2020…”. This, it says, is “tantamount to systematic suppression of freedom.” We are unsure whether this total includes “another 47 We Volunteer (WeVo) members [arrested] by a SWAT police team who used force and did not produce an arrest warrant on 6 March prior to the protest at the judicial court complex.”

PPT had thought there were at least 10 protest leaders are held without bail, some of them now for a month. However, as of 8 March, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights reported 18:

  • 7 leading figures of Ratsadorn, one of the protest organizing groups: Anon Nampa, Parit Chiwarak, Patiwat Saraiyaem, Somyot Pruksakasemsuk, Panusaya Sitthijirawattanakul, Jatupat Boonbattararaksa and Panupong Jadnok. The first 4 have been detained since 9 February.
  • 5 people who have been charged with damage to police vehicles in October 2020: Nathanon Chaimahabut, Thawat Sukprasoet, Sakchai Tangchitsadudi, Somkhit Tosoi and Chaluai Ekasak. They have been detained since 24 February.
  • Chaiamorn ‘Ammy’ Kaewwiboonpan, lead singer of the The Bottom Blues band, detained for allegedly burning a portrait of King Rama X in front of Klong Prem Central Prison.
  • Parinya ‘Port’ Cheewinkulpathom, a member of the self-exiled band ‘Faiyen’, charged under the lèse majesté law over his Facebook post in 2016 and detained since 6 March.
  • 3 people detained since 29 January for allegedly throwing a homemade ‘pingpong’ bomb at the protest at Samyan Mitrtown on 10 January. .
  • Piyarat Chongtep, arrested on 6 March and detained 2 days later.

Add in those arrested and/or charged in the second half of 2020, and we’d guess the figures are nudging 1,000. So many, in fact, that the Ministry of Justice is reportedly considering a special prison for political prisoners!

Update: Turns out speculation about the special prison for political prisoners. AP reports that the regime is going to split up the political prisoners, integrating them with regular prisoners. The idea seems to be to prevent them supporting each other and to make them less of a focus for rallies for their release.

Somsak Thepsuthin, the Minister for (In)Justice, concocted a story that “Bangkok Remand Prison and Klong Prem Central Prison, where most recently detained political prisoners are held, [had] become congested when families and supporters come to visit.”

He then lied, saying: “Everyone should be treated equally…”. That’s observably false in royalist Thailand.


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12 03 2021
Absolute hypocrisy | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] it rounds up so many political prisoners that its prisons are overflowing, it beggars belief that the regime that overthrew an elected […]

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