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:

 





Further updated: Suicide attempts

28 06 2022

Readers will be well award that a series of political prisoners, denied bail, have been on hunger strikes. Some of those continue.

Shockingly, yesterday it was revealed on social media that one political prisoner had attempted suicide. It is now revealed that three Talugas protesters, also denied bail and “being held on remand, have tried to commit suicide, but were rescued and are now safe…”. That’s according to Corrections Department Director-General Aryut Sinthoppan.

He stated “that one of the protesters, detained at the Bangkok Remand Prison, swallowed over 50 paracetamol pills, which he had gathered from friends in the prison, while the other two slashed their wrists with a sharpened tool of unknown origin.”

The three protesters reportedly “told prison officials that they were stressed, missed their families and wanted bail.”

He also “insisted that, while the prison has CCTV to monitor the activities of all prisoners at all time, he will order an investigation into how the trio managed to attempt suicide without detection by prison guards.”

At present there are some “11 members of the Talugas protest group are being detained at Bangkok Remand Prison, pending trials on multiple charges” all related to protests.

Bail is necessary. But so too is the prison designated for political detainees. In 2014 there was an effort to separate political prisoners from the general prison population.

Update 1: A Thai Enquirer op-ed comments:

If nothing else can convince the authorities to grant bail to young pro-democracy protesters (who should not be jailed in the first place) languishing in prison while awaiting trial than the latest news that one of them tried to commit suicide while in prison should force them to change their minds.

Given that this is Thailand and the Prayut Chan-ocha administration, it should come no surprise that no bail is forth coming and once again the pro-democracy political prisoners are being punished to the extremes to frighten them into silence.

Update 2: Prachatai reports that it was one prisoner who attempted suicide. The other two engaged in protest using “the lid from a can of fish to cut themselves on the face and arms over 10 times from the wrist to elbow to protest their detention and denial of bail.” Another is on a hunger strike. All the detained protesters “are stressed and anxious.”





A battle of ideas

21 05 2022

Thai Enquirer counts that Tantawan Tuatulanon has been in prison for 30 days. The newspaper declares her a “prisoner of conscience.”  She is indeed. She’s yet another political prisoner kept in the regime’s prisons.

She’s a prisoner of conscience because she wants change and believes change is impossible until Article 112 is gone: ““For me, I want to engage in a battle of ideas…. But for that to happen, we have to abolish 112.”

She’s a 20 year-old woman challenging a hierarchical regime of old men. Those old men deem that she must be punished as  disrespectful and, indeed, dangerous.

The newspaper wobbles as it discusses Tantawan’s work. They say she’s been involved in “provocative street surveys on sensitive matters including taboo topics in Thai society.” What they are trying to say is that the group has been running surveys in public places asking questions about the monarchy.

Thank the Constitutional Court – a court of old men – for this self-censorship.

“Even the group name we discussed, and what kind of legal charges we could face for the name,” Tawan said.

Tantawan’s critical views on the monarchy are no longer unusual: they “echo many other Thai youths who demand change to a system that has seen opportunity move abroad and an education system stuck in the past. Thousands of young Thais view her as a non-threatening individual who has merely gone into the public space to ask questions.”

Her arrests, jailing and “the rejection of her bail requests …[are] an indictment of Thailand’s judicial system.”

In detention, “Tawan still protests today from behind prison walls. She has been on hunger strike since April 20.”

The report adds that “three other women who represent Tawan’s group have also been detained without bail, including a 17-year-old girl. ”

They are brave and the hope of a better Thailand.





Brave and proud

15 05 2022

Prachatai states:

In a new surge of detentions, six people are in jail in connection with the royal defamation law – five of them denied bail to contest the charges outside prison. A human rights lawyer said the move illustrates the authorities’ obsession with smothering any public criticism of the monarchy.

Add to that obsession the absurdity of the Lazada stuff, where it is the royalists who identify that it is about one of The Munsters royal family they think is being portrayed and, once having outed the royal family then rushes to “protect” it.

In among all of that, we find another political prisoners on a hunger strike. Tantawan Tuatulanon is one of the brave kids bringing attention to absurd, obsessional monarchism among some. She began her hunger strike a day after she was sent to jail on 20 April. Watch this Prachatai video about her and her protests:





The virus and political prisoners

31 01 2022

Several times it has been pointed out that political prisoners detained by the junta have become ill in prison. The regime couldn’t care less as these are people they prefer to torture.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights reports on this cruel treatment, determining that at least “30 political prisoners have tested positive for Covid-19 in the prison while being held in custody” since late March 2021. It must be remembered that “[a]ll of them are ‘innocent people’ who have been detained pending the trial.”

Some have been bailed, but the regime won’t release the rest until they plead guilty or agree to stringent and repressive bail conditions.

Some of the detainees have been reinfected while in the prison, including the Panupong Jadnok and Sam Samet.

Sakchai “Hia Song” Tangchitsadudi “was only allowed to post bail when the virus had penetrated his lungs after having tested positive for Covid-19 due to his comorbidity. As a result, he had to received treatment in ICU in a hospital outside the prison.”

This is an inhumane regime.





Authoritarianism and virus repression

18 01 2022

Several countries, and with regimes of several political orientations, have used the virus as a means to extend measures that amount to a global growing of authoritarianism. Thailand’s repressive royalist regime has used an emergency decree, meant to be about public health, to oppress political activists seeking a democratic politics and monarchy reform.

The Nation recently reported that the police have again warned those who regularly rally in support of imprisoned political prisoners that they will be arrested “under Covid restrictions.”

Metropolitan Police Bureau deputy commissioner and spokesman Jirasan Kaewsangek stated “it is still illegal to hold a protest or gathering…. He cited the emergency decree, anti-Covid guidelines and the Communicable Diseases Control Act…”. He directed this at those who he said were gathering peacefully.

To date, Bangkok police say they have “investigated 814 cases relating to protests since July 2020. Of these, 409 cases have been brought to court while the rest remain under police investigation…”.





Precarious political prisoners

7 01 2022

We have repeatedly referred to the mistreatment of political prisoners as lese majeste torture. It continues unabated.

The most recent report is that “pro-democracy activist, Arnon Nampa, 37, is currently ill with a high fever in Bangkok Remand Prison…”.

His legal team from Thai Lawyers For Human Rights (TLHR) “are urgently seeking medical attention for him as they are concerned that his condition could continue to worsen.” Fellow political prisoner Jatuphat Boonpattaraksa confirmed that Arnon is struggling with a high fever. They do not know what his illness is.

Clipped from Prachatai

His lawyers demand that the “Bangkok Remand Prison … allow medical workers to check on his illness and to find out if he has Covid or not…”. They add that “Arnon was a healthy person before his first entering prison in 2021. But now he has difficulty breathing and is easily vulnerable to fatigue due to a previous lung infection brought on from Covid.”

Prison authorities are notoriously corrupt and hopeless and several lese majeste prisoners have suffered health issues in hospital – and, several years ago, one died – and with palace and regime spitting venom at these political prisoners, their health situation is always tenuous. And that seems to be what the callous, royalist regime wants.





Another year of repression

27 12 2021

Even with the virus, most people have been celebrating the holidays. But, as Prachatai reports, nothing of the sort is possible for those jailed without bail on lese majeste charges.

Parit Chiwarak, Arnon Nampa, Panupong Jadnok and Jatuphat Boonpattararaksa have again denied bail in an act of lese majeste torture. The four have already spent some 3-4 months in jail pending trial.

Of course, in line with lese majeste torture protocols, the courts are in no hurry to get these political prisoners into a trial.

Clipped from VOA News – a Reuters photo

A bail request was submitted to the Ratchadapisek Criminal Court on 17 December.  As expected from the royalist courts, on 24 December the court “ruled to leave its former order unchanged out of concern that the four, if released, would commit the same offences again.”

The court rejected an undertaking by the “four detainees [who] affirmed that, if released, they would abide by previous Court conditions to not engage in any activities damaging to the monarchy, take part in protests causing public disorder, flee the country, or violate Court-mandated travel restrictions.”

The regime and, we assume, the absent monarch, prefer to keep these young people locked up. They fear the anti-monarchism that has grown and that is (temporarily) repressed.

From Prachatai’s Facebook page

Protesters had gathered at the Court to support the political prisoners. After bail was refused, the protesters “burned a judge uniform and the Criminal Code textbook and sprayed paint all over the Court entrance area.” Meanwhile, “Thatchapong Kaedam, another prominent figure in the protest movement, said that next year, the people will continue to call for change and the intensity of the demonstrations will escalate.”

This is now the normal court contribution to political repression: at least another 16 people “are being detained pending trial or police investigation of their participation in political protests and confrontations with the police over the past year.”

Over the longer period from July 2020 to October 2021, according to the Thai Enquirer, 1,636 people in 896 cases have faced lawsuits for their political participation and expression, including 258 minors.

Of that, 1,337 are being prosecuted for alleged violations of the emergency decree which came into effect in March 2020, 107 are being prosecuted for the alleged violations of the Public Assembly Act, 97 for alleged violations of the Computer Crime Act, 112 for sedition and 154 for lese-majeste.

In addition to the politicized judiciary, the royalist regime has also used violence to repress anti-monarchism. According to a report by the Thai Enquirer, in 2021, more than “500 people were injured from protest-related violence in 2021…”. Dozens of them were children, with one 15 year-old was killed.

Of the total, 347 civilians, including 88 minors were injured. Reflecting the regime’s attempts to also suppress the media, 29 journalists were injured, including several who were targeted with rubber bullets. In addition, three medical volunteers and two bystanders were injured. Many more injuries went unreported.146 police officers  and one soldier were injured.

The police have become especially aggressive, having replaced the military as the frontline troops in repressing protest. Emphasizing this, as Prachatai reports, another “20 protesters and activists have been charged with violation of the Emergency Decree for participating in the 28 November 2021 rally at the Ratchaprasong intersection to call for marriage equality.” They are also charged with obstructing traffic.

LGBTQ protesters are now seen as threatening and in need of repression. Of course, pro-monarchy and pro-regime groups face no such police action,

The activists of the Rainbow Coalition for Marriage Equality say “that the rally was an exercise of their legal rights and freedoms, and that the charges against them amount to a strategic lawsuit against public participation, or SLAPP.”

They add that they are “willing to fight the charges to show that they are free to think and are protected by the civil rights enshrined in the Constitution. They are also considering filing complaints against the officers who file charges against them.”

For a perspective on Thailand’s authoritarianism, see this article.





Updated: The regime’s political prisoners

24 11 2021

Recently, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights listed those political prisoners currently held in the regime’s dungeons. There are at least 25.

These political detainees have repeatedly applied for but been denied bail. For example, lawyer and activist Arnon Nampa has had his bail applications denied eight times, Jatupat Boonpattararaksa has had bail denied seven times, and so on. The courts can detain them for as long as it takes for their cases to be concluded. In the past, for lese majeste detainees, this was a form of torture meant to force them to plead guilty.

Those held longest have been in the dungeons for almost 4 months.

We attach here a summary of the list of political detainees:

Update: Thai Enquirer has a story regarding some of those included in the list above. It emphasizes that the regime’s police have arrested more than 200 children and youths associated with the Din Daeng protests. Using data from TLHR, it states that “from August to October, police have arrested 176 young people, aged 15-18, and another 46 children under the age of 15 for a range of charges.” Arrests are made and homes searched without warrants, and some a held without access to guardians or lawyers. Just another day in authoritarian, autocratic Thailand.





1976 in the news

7 10 2021

The Bangkok Post reported on the memorial rally, but little more. On that memorial event it noted:

Little has changed in the 45 years since students and activists were massacred by the military and rightwing radicals at Thammasat University….

This point was made by speakers when activists and members of the victims’ families gathered on Wednesday at the memorial at Thammasat University….

The Thalufah group said in a statement posted on its Facebook page that they would never forget the events of Oct 6 1976, and said violent means were unacceptable nowdays.

Red-shirt leader Nattawut Saikuar said students continued to fight for democracy 45 years later, with the country still divided with no political solution to the problem.

Despite the efforts of the state and especially the bureaucracy, military and monarchy, the events of 1976 have never been forgotten. The state’s success has been in preventing any meaningful investigation, covering up the events, and in providing impunity for the murderers who stalked the students at Thammasat and for several years after. Yet another effort is being made to rectify this, although the International Criminal Court is a high hurdle.

Kudos to Thai Examiner for its several reports on 6 October 1976. It did much better than most of the mainstream media. We are especially grateful for their interview with Sutham Saengprathum who was Secretary-General of the National Student Center of Thailand in 1976. As we recall it – correct us if our collective memory is faulty – Sutham was jailed as a political prisoner for a long period, and there was an international campaign for his release.

We especially like hearing from other students of the period as much of the “heavy lifting” on 1976 has been done in English by Thongchai Winichakul. See recent efforts here and here. Without other voices in English accounts, 1976 risks becoming Thongchai’s 1976. His major contribution is Moments of Silence: The Unforgetting of the October 6, 1976, Massacre in Bangkok, available from Library Genesis.

 








%d bloggers like this: