Updated: 4 political prisoners bailed

19 02 2023

The Bangkok Post reports that four members of Thalugas/Thalugaz have been released on bail of 70,000 baht each and ordered to wear electronic monitoring anklets.

According to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, these political prisoners “had spent more than 240 days in pre-trial detention…”. That detention of more than 8 months results from them being “accused of setting fire to a police car during a protest on June 11, 2022.”

Clipped from Pattaya News

TLHR reports that their lawyers “had requested bail for them 18 times — the most of all political prisoners in 2022.”

It is reported that “the foursome expressed thanks to hunger strikers Tantawan ‘Tawan’ Tuatulanon and Orawan ‘Bam’ Phuphong, who have led the campaign in support of bail rights for political prisoners.” Those brave women are past 30 days in their brave protest, demanding “the right to bail, the release of all political prisoners and the abolition of the lese-majeste and sedition laws.”

This release of Thalugas prisoners means that “four detainees remain in Bangkok Remand Prison.”

One of those detainees is “Sophon Suraritthamrong, who has been refusing to sleep for 10 days.” He has been detained since 9 January 2023 on lese majeste.

Update: Prachatai reports that the glacial, royalist courts have “granted bail to 3 detainees whose charges relate to political protests, leaving 3 still detained.” On 20 February 2023, the Ratchadaphisek Criminal Court “granted a request from their lawyers to temporarily release Sopon Surariddhidhamrong, Nutthanit Duangmusit, and Pornpot Jaengkrajang.”

It is reported that the “remaining three are Thiranai, Khathathon, and Chaiyaporn (surnames withheld in all cases)…. In Thiranai and Chaiyaporn’s case, the Court has passed the request to the Court of Appeal for consideration. In Khathathon’s case, Ratchadaphisek Criminal Court asked for further information. All cases would take a few days before a decision is made.”

However, Prachatai also says that “there are [an]other 6 people who have been sentenced to prison terms for crimes related to expression about the monarchy and actions related to the protest. The longest serving is Anchan, who has been sentenced to 43 years and six months for violating Article 112 of the Thai Criminal Code (lèse majesté).”

On Tantawan and Orawan, “Thaluwang (Pierce the Palace), a monarchy reform group to which Tantawan and Orawan are affiliated, posted that the two would leave Thammasat hospital and continue to protest in front of the Supreme Court on Tuesday if all the bail requests are not promptly granted.”

Arbitrary detention and digital dictatorship

16 01 2023

We note two recent reports worthy of attention.

The first is from the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has issued an appeal regarding Thailand.

It begins:

The Observatory has been informed about the arbitrary detention and ongoing judicial harassment of Mr Sopon Surariddhidhamrong, aka Get, leader of the student pro-democracy group Mok Luang Rim Nam, and Ms Natthanit Duangmusit, aka Baipor, member of the pro-democracy and monarchy reform activist group Thalu Wang. Founded in August 2020, Mok Luang Rim Nam has expanded from advocating for the rights of students at Navamindradhiraj University in Bangkok to various human rights issues in Thailand, including enforced disappearance, labour rights, and equality. Formed in early 2022, Thalu Wang has been advocating for the abolition of Article 112 of Thailand Criminal Code (“lèse-majesté”) and conducting public opinion polls at various locations in Bangkok on how the Thai monarchy affects people’s lives and whether the institution should be reformed.

On January 9, 2023, the Bangkok Criminal Court revoked Sopon and Natthanit’s bail and ordered their detention, on the ground that the two violated the bail conditions of their temporary release, granted on May 31, 2022, and August 4, 2022, respectively, by participating in an anti-government protest on November 17, 2022, during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Bangkok….

It adds:

The Observatory expresses its deepest concern about the arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of Sopon and Natthanit, who seem to be only targeted for the legitimate exercise of their rights to freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly….

The second is from Global Voices. It begins:

A ministerial decree issued by the government of Thailand detailing procedures for the “Suppression of Dissemination and Removal of Computer Data from the Computer System B.E. 2565” took effect on December 25, 2022. The decree passed despite calls from various civil society organizations to withdraw the new regulation because it contains provisions that could further suppress online free speech.

Noting that content could be removed without a court order, NGOs considered the decree “another tool of control for the authorities to silence critical dissent, and a reflection of the digital dictatorship in Thailand.”

112 bail revoked

10 01 2023

Prachatai reports that two monarchy reform activists, both charged with lese majeste, have had their bail revoked.

Bail for Sopon Surariddhidhamrong and Nutthanit “Baipor” Duangmusit was revoked on 9 January “after the Criminal Court ruled that they had violated their bail conditions by joining an anti-government protest during the APEC summit in November 2022.”

Sopon and Baipor. Clipped from Prachatai, hhoto by Ginger Cat

As Prachatai reports, “Sopon was previously held in pre-trial detention on a royal defamation charge for a month before being granted bail on 31 May 2022. He has been prohibited from leaving his residence without court permission unless for educational or medical reasons.”

Nutthanit, who had previously been held in pre-trial detention for 94 days “went on a hunger strike for 64 days … until granted bail on 4 August 2022.”

As usual, the royalist courts appear to have made odd/political decisions that seems to stretch notions of legality: “TLHR [Thai Lawyers for Human Rights] said that the defendants decided not to testify because the prosecution did not bring an eyewitness to court, and because they believed that the prosecution did not have enough evidence to prove that they violated their bail.” Even so, bail was revoked.

Royalists courts play royalist politics I

31 08 2022

Royalist courts continue to engage in political actions. Prachatai reports that “[t]wo women were arrested last Thursday (25 August) and subsequently denied bail on charges of contempt of court, defamation, and using a sound amplifier without permission.”

The complaints were filed “on behalf of judge Santi Chukitsappaisan, Research Justice of the Supreme Court, temporarily acting as the Deputy Chief Justice of the South Bangkok Criminal Court.” Ngoentra Khamsaen and Chiratchaya Sakunthong “were arrested during the night of 25 August on warrants issued by the South Bangkok Criminal Court on a request from Yannawa Police Station…” and were a result of “a protest in front of the South Bangkok Criminal Court on 15 July to demand the right to bail for detained activists.”

The two were not were taken to the Yannawa police station, but like other political prisoners, were initially detained at the Narcotics Suppression Bureau.

Neither woman received a summons before being arrested.

Apparently, amongst other things that annoyed the judges of the South Bangkok Criminal Court, the women “criticized judges … for rulings made in the case of monarchy reform activists Nutthanit Duangmusit and Netiporn Sanesangkhom,” both charged with lese majeste.

After being taken to the South Bangkok Criminal Court, the two were denied bail on the spurious “grounds that their actions were very dangerous to the court and the justice system, since they were rude and accused judges of things that were not true in order to pressure the court, which the court sees as a disregard for the law and an intention to create hatred against it.”

The judges know that they are political tools of the royalist regime and thus seek to silence criticism.

There are another 29 political prisoners currently detained without bail. Two others are under house detention.

AI Thailand on political prisoners

11 08 2022

Amnesty International Thailand has delivered a petition of 4,701 Thai citizens “to call for the release, dismissed the allegations and restored bail rights to activists who are being held in custody pending trial. As well as, to demand that Thailand’s government uphold its commitments to international human rights standards, including the right to bail, freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly.”

The petition “was delivered to Mr. Somsak Thepsuthin, the Minister of Justice, by Mr. Wallop Nakbua, the Deputy Permanent Secretary for Justice, who also served as the Minister of Justice’s representative…”.

AI’s news release states:

Piyanut Kotsan, Director of Amnesty International Thailand said that according to the Amnesty International Secretariat in London, United Kingdom has launched an urgent operation inviting members, activists, and supporters to send a letter to Mr. Somsak Thepsuthin, the Minister of Justice, demanded the release of the activists and the withdrawal of all accusations. Additionally, they urged Thai authorities to adhere to their commitments under international human rights law, which mandate that they should protect citizens’ rights to freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly and minimize detention pending review. This campaign was in effect until August 9th.

Since 2 June 2022, two women have been on hunger strike calling for their right to bail. They have been detained since 3 May 2022. Authorities have started criminal proceedings against them and one other, who is on bail under house arrest, for conducting street polls. The Thai government is required by international human rights commitments to effectively protect the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and to minimize pretrial detention. All allegations against the three must be dismissed, and they must be released right away.

Thai authorities have carried out a wide-ranging crackdown on peaceful protest and online discussion since overwhelmingly peaceful pro-democracy reform protests started in July 2020. Officials are using vaguely worded provisions of laws – on security, the monarchy and computer crimes – as instruments of repression and are interpreting the peaceful exercise of rights as a threat to security or public order, or offence to the monarchy, and subsequently file criminal proceedings against activists which may result in up to life imprisonment.

The Director of Amnesty International Thailand also announced that over the course of more than a month through Amnesty International has campaigned to compile names under urgent action that are campaigning around the world. Calling for the release of two protest activists who have been on hunger strike including Bung, Netiporn Sanesangkhom and Bai Por, Nutthanit Duangmusit who demand their rights to bail. Both were detained on May 3, 2022 and released on August 4, 2022. Despite being given bail, authorities have launched criminal prosecutions against the two. However, as a result of the 64-day hunger strike has resulted in health ramifications for the body, which now requires hospitalization to recover. While Tawan, Thantawan Tuatulanon, who had previously been granted bail, is being sentenced to home detention for 24 hours after conducting street polls.

Clipped from AI Thailand

Since May 3, 2022, Netiporn and Nutthanit have been detained, with their requests for bail repeatedly denied. They have been on hunger strike since 2 June 2022 in protest of their detention. After going on a 36-day hunger strike in detention after authorities revoked her initial/earlier bail on 20 April 2022, Tantawan is currently on bail under house arrest

Prominent protesters have also faced months of arbitrary pre-trial detention, often compromising their rights to education and access to a livelihood. They are currently subject to increasingly restrictive bail conditions which stringently limit their human rights to freedom of movement, expression and peaceful assembly, including requirements to stay within their places of residence for up to 24 hours daily, unless for medical treatment, and wear electronic monitoring bracelets 24 hours a day.

During 2022, Thai authorities have filed criminal proceedings against protesters in connection with their public peaceful activism. Officials continue to increase their judicial harassment of people engaging in acts of perceived public dissent, including children, and are escalating measures to stifle public expressions of opinion and peaceful protest and are imposing excessive restrictions on people’s right to peaceful protest and expression.

Amnesty International has the following requests for the Thai government in this regard:

    • Immediately release and/or withdraw charges and excessive bail conditions against people targeted for peaceful exercise of their rights and drop all criminal proceedings against them;

    • Pending the release of people targeted for peaceful exercise of their rights, ensure they have adequate access to medical treatment;

    • Instruct officials to uphold Thailand’s international human rights obligations, including on the right to bail, freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.

Two activists bailed

6 08 2022

As most readers will know, on 4 August, the South Bangkok Criminal Court finally granted bail for monarchy reform activists Nutthanit Duangmusit and Netiporn Sanesangkhom, both charged with lese majeste.

The two have been held in pre-trial detention for 94 days.

Netiporn (l) and Baipor (r), clipped from Prachatai

As is now usual, those who get bail are placed into restrictive release: each had to post a 200,000 baht security; they are prohibited from repeating their offences and interfering with court proceedings; they must be inside their homes between 19.00-06.00; must not leave the country; and must report to the court every 30 days.

As both were also detained by other courts, their lawyers had to post additional bail requests for those charges. Bail was provided in those cases as well.

After being released from the Central Women’s Correctional Institution at about 20.00, the two were taken for a checkup at a local hospital. Both had been on a hunger strike in protest against repeated refusals of bail. The fast went on for 64 days.

Updated: Political prisoners denied bail (again and again)

23 07 2022

The courts are working hard maintaining the monarchy, its ruling class and its royalist-military status quo.

Prachatai reports that 31 political prisoners now detained without bail.

That milestone in political persecution was achieved through the denial of bail for the 7 Thalufah activists for a rally at Democrat Party headquarters on 30 July 2021 and another man named Boonma, detained pending an appeal on his conviction for computer crimes “after he was accused of running an anti-monarchy Facebook page…”.

Five of the 31 “are detained on royal defamation charges.”*

Reproduced from Prachatai, this is the list of the five:

  • Private Methin (pseudonym), 22, a soldier detained at the 11th Military Circle Prison since 19 March 2022 after he was accused of mentioning King Vajiralongkorn while arguing with another person who hit his motorcycle with their car. TLHR reported that Methin was held at the 11th Military Circle for 30 days while facing disciplinary action, before being arrested by officers from Bangbuatong Police Station and detained at the military prison.
  • Nutthanit, 20, an activist from the monarchy reform activist group Thaluwang. She has been detained pending trial on charges of royal defamation, sedition, and refusing to comply with an officer’s order filed against her for conducting a public poll on royal motorcades in February 202 She has been denied bail 7 times and has been on a hunger strike for 50 days to demand the right to bail.
  • Netiporn, 26, another activist from the monarchy reform activist group Thaluwang. She is detained on the same charges as Nutthanit, has been repeatedly denied bail, and is also on a hunger strike to demand the right to bail.
  • Sombat Thongyoi, a former Red Shirt protest guard sentenced to 6 years in prison on charges of royal defamation and violation of the Computer Crimes Act over 3 Facebook posts he made in 2020. Sombat has been detained pending appeal at the Bangkok Remand Prison since 28 April 2022.
  • Pornchai Yuanyee, a Thalufah activist, who was accused of burning a royal ceremonial arch in front of Ratchawinit School during a protest on 19 September 2019. He has been detrained pending trial at the Bangkok Remand Prison since 7 July 2022.

At present, three of these detainees are on a hunger strike, demanding the constitutional right to bail, and several detainees have engaged in self-harm, also protesting their continued detention.

*PPT gain points out to Prachatai that “royal defamation” is the wrong term, risking a “normalization” of Article 112. It is Article 112 and lese majeste. “Royal defamation” has no meaning as in defamation only the injured party can initiate a legal suit.

Update: This graphic is from TLHR:


Free detained monarchy critics

20 07 2022

Human Rights Watch media release on the continuing detention of Netiporn “Bung” Sanesangkhom and Nutthanit “Bai Por” Duangmusit:

(Bangkok) – Thai authorities should immediately drop the charges and release pro-democracy activists detained for insulting the monarchy (lese majeste), Human Rights Watch said today.

Two of the activists, Netiporn “Bung” Sanesangkhom and Nutthanit “Bai Por” Duangmusit, have been on a hunger strike since June 2, 2022 to protest their pretrial detention at Bangkok’s Central Women Correctional Institution. Pending their release, they should immediately be transferred to a hospital where they can receive appropriate medical attention. On July 18, the two activists collapsed during a witness examination at the Southern Bangkok Criminal Court due to severe stomach pains and fatigue.

“Thai authorities should drop the politically motivated cases against Netiporn, Nutthanit, and others charged for their peaceful protests to reform the monarchy,” said John Sifton, Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. “The Thai government is harshly punishing these activists by unnecessarily holding them in prolonged pretrial detention instead of releasing them prior to trial.”

Netiporn, 26, and Nutthanit, 20, who are affiliated with the pro-democracy Thalu Wang group, have regularly advocated reforming the monarchy. The authorities have charged them with various criminal offenses, including lese majeste, for conducting a public opinion poll on February 8 about royal motorcades. Since May 3, the authorities have held them in pretrial detention, and that detention has been repeatedly extended.

Article 112 of Thailand’s Criminal Code makes lese majeste punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

The number of lese majeste cases in Thailand has significantly increased in the past year, Human Rights Watch said. After almost a three-year hiatus in which lese majeste cases were not brought before the courts, in November 2020 the prime minister, Gen. Prayut Chan-ocha, ordered the authorities to restore lese majeste prosecutions, ostensibly because of growing criticisms of the monarchy. Since then, officials have charged more than 200 people with lese majeste crimes in relation to various activities at pro-democracy rallies or comments on social media.

Holding those charged with lese majeste in pretrial detention violates their rights under international human rights law. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Thailand ratified in 1996, encourages bail for criminal suspects. Article 9 states, “It shall not be the general rule that persons awaiting trial shall be detained in custody, but release may be subject to guarantees to appear for trial.” Those whose charges have not been dropped should be tried without undue delay, Human Rights Watch said.

The ICCPR protects the right to freedom of expression. General Comment 34 of the Human Rights Committee, the international expert body that monitors compliance with the covenant, states that laws such as those for lese majeste “should not provide for more severe penalties solely on the basis of the identity of the person that may have been impugned” and that governments “should not prohibit criticism of institutions.”

“The Thai government should permit peaceful expression of all viewpoints, including questions about the monarchy,” Sifton said. “The authorities in Thailand should engage with United Nations experts and others about amending the lese majeste law to bring it into compliance with international human rights standards.”

Netiporn (l) and Baipor (r), clipped from Prachatai

Prachatai reports on the two women and their continued detention: “Monarchy reform activists Nutthanit and Netiporn, who are being held in pre-trial detention on … [Article 112] charges, have once again been denied bail despite being hospitalized after collapsing during a witness examination hearing from severe pain and fatigue from their hunger strike.” It adds: “On Tuesday (19 July), the South Bangkok Criminal Court denied bail for Nutthanit and Netiporn, claiming that their physical examination report shows that their health is normal.”

What is abnormal is the royalist judiciary.

No bail for political prisoners

8 07 2022

Prachatai reports on the (repeated) failed bail efforts for Netiporn and Natthanit, using information from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights. The two have been jailed since 3 May 2022.

Netiporn (l) and Baipor (r), clipped from Prachatai

On 7 July, the Southern Bangkok Criminal Court again denied bail to the two young monarchy reform activists who are in pre-trial detention.

Part of the bail application was regarding health matters, where, after 36 days of hunger strike, both detainees “are exhibiting signs of seriously deteriorating health.”

The presiding judge decided “that the Correctional Hospital is still capable of seeing to the activists’ health needs.” It is reported that a “prison officer and nurse testified that they have just ‘lost some weight’ but [that the two detainees] remained in good spirits.”

It is stated that the “Court considered the request for more than 6 hours, summoning prison nurses and witnesses, before announcing its decision on 7 July.”

Netiporn and Natthanit had their bail revoked on 3 May when the South Bangkok Criminal Court ruled that they had violated bail from previous lese majeste charges when they caused “public disorder at Victory Monument on 13 March 2022 when they organised a poll on land expropriation. During the incident, a small altercation arose between Thaluwang supporters and members of a royalist group that had gathered nearby.”

Their article 112 charges, supplemented by charges of sedition and refusing to comply with a police order when “they conducted a poll on 8 February 2022 at Siam Paragon shopping mall about royal motorcades.”

Other lese majeste charges were brought against them and fellow activist Supitcha Chailom for another survey “on whether it was acceptable for the government to let the King use his powers as he pleases.” That arrest was on 28 April 2022.

Natthanit was also arrested on 22 April 2022 and charged under Article 112 and computer crimes “for sharing a Facebook post about the monarchy budget.”

Letter from the Central Women’s Prison

26 06 2022

A few days ago Practatai posted on a demand by the 24 June Democracy group that demanded the Ministry of Justice investigate a prison doctor’s alleged harassment of Nutthanit Duangmusit or “Baipor,” a monarchy reform activist currently detained pending trial on Article 112 charges.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights said “that Nutthanit told her lawyer that she was threatened by a prison doctor named Chatri, who was performing a physical exam on her and Netiporn, another detained activist.”

That was dismissed by the Ministry of Justice.

Netiporn or Bung (l) and Nutthanit or Baipor (r), clipped from Prachatai

TLHR then published a letter from the two, which Tyrell Haberkorn has translated online. The letter written by Netiporn or Bung Sanesangkhon and Bai Por on the 90th anniversary of the 1932 revolution. They are detained without bail on lese majeste charges “after peacefully conducting a public poll.”

The two have “been denied bail five times during their 53 days in detention [as of 24 June 2022]. They are both on hunger strike[s] in protest of the denial of bail. Haberkorn’s translation is pasted below:

Letter From Bung and Bai Por, on hunger strike in Central Women’s Prison after Fifth Denial of Bail

Today, 24 June 2022, is the 90th anniversary of the transformation of rule [from absolute to constitutional monarchy], but it is seems as if our country has not changed at all.
Today, there are still 22 political prisoners being detained. And today is the 23rd day that Bai Por and Older Sister Bung are on hunger strike. Prior to this, Older Sister Bung could not consume anything other than water and her condition gravely deteriorated. Yesterday, we submitting our fifth petition for bail, but it was denied just as each prior petition has been denied. The court gave the reason that the prison has the capacity to look after us well. Yet in addition to the condition of our physical bodies, our mental state under detention has not improved at all.
Prior to this, Bai Por still drank some fruit juice and milk. But after learning of the denial of our request for bail, Bai Por decided to only consume water and to refuse further treatment.
Now, Older Sister Bung can only consume water and must take medicine to treat her condition. Otherwise, she will vomit and faint on a daily basis. Today is the 53rd day that we are imprisoned. We yearn for freedom in the world outside. We yearn for the people we love. And we still fight in every second of every day.
Thank you for all of the encouragement and actions you have taken for us. Bung and Bai Por hope that we will be released and will see one another and continue the struggle together.

Bai Por and Bung, Thaluwang

Central Women’s Prison

24 June 2022

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