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.





Release political prisoners III

27 05 2022

Tantawan Tuatulanon has been sent to house arrest, but there remain many political prisoners held in pre-trial detention, with bail refused. Several are charged under Article 112. Helpfully, Thai Enquirer has published the list, which we reproduce here:

  • Weha Sanchonchanasuk – 78 days in pretrial detention – He was arrested on March 10 for lese-majeste and the alleged violation of the Computer Crime Act. It was his second royal defamation charge. In the latest case, the police said he shared a post about the government’s procurement of Covid-19 vaccines and a message about his previous lese-majeste charge which were both deemed to have insulted the royal institution.
  • Kataporn and Kongphet – 47 days in pretrial detention – The two are members of a vocational-student-led protest group who were arrested while they were making their way to a protest site on April 10. The police said they were arrested for carrying knives and small homemade explosive devices and charged accordingly.
  • Patima – 47 days in pretrial detention – She was arrested on April 11. The police said she and her boyfriend, a rapper name Book Eleven Finger, threw an explosive device in front of the 1st Infantry Regiment’s camp.
  • Pornpoj Chaengkrachang – 46 days in pretrial detention – He turned himself in to the police on April 11 and was detained the next day. The police said he was involved in an incident where a group of people threw a small homemade explosive device (ping pong bomb) in front of the 1st Infantry Regiment’s camp after a protest on April 10.
  • Sophon “Get” Suraritthamrong – 26 days in pretrial detention – The youth activist was arrested on May 1 while traveling to join a May Day protest. He was charged with lese-majeste. The police said he insulted and threatened the royal family while making his political speech. He is now on his 23rd day of hunger strike in protest of political prisoners’ right to bail.
  • Bai-Por and Pak-Bung – 25 days in pretrial detention – The Bangkok Shouthern Criminal Court revoked the bail for the two youth activists who were charged with lese-majeste on May 3. The police said they insulted the royal intuition by conducting street polls about the institution. The court said the bail was revoked because they have continued to conduct street polls while on bail which was against their bail condition. The court said they denied the new round of bail requests because they will disrupt peace within the society. Bai-Por is 20-year old.

It adds:

  • Ekkachai Hongkangwan – The activist was sentenced to one year in jail on April 19 for posting about his sex life in prison. This was the fourth time he was imprisoned in his life and he is still facing other political-related charges including life in prison for allegedly threatening the Queen’s liberty by standing near a royal motorcade in October 2020.
  • Sombat Thongyoi – The former head of volunteer guard groups during the Red Shirts protests in 2010 and the latest pro-democracy movement was sentenced to six years in jail after his social media posts were deemed to have defamed the royal family. The Criminal Court said Sombat posted three social media posts between October and November 2020, including one with the phrases “very brave”, “very good” and “thank you” that was posted along with a news article about university students who refused to accept their diploma from members of the royal family. The court said the ceremony is sacred so for Sombat to make fun of it by using the phrases was equal to royal defamation.




Buffalo manure bail

26 05 2022

The Criminal Court is behaving badly. In recent times, various courts have “granted” bail to monarchy reform protesters that is so restrictive as to be appropriately termed bullshit bail.

On Thursday, the court “granted” bail to Tantawan Tuatulanon but only for 30 days. In previous cases, the courts have given bail to monarchy reform activists charged under the lese majeste law, usually for limited terms of several months. This is quite a legal “innovation.” For Tantawan, a 30 day bail is ludicrous.

It seems her temporary release is simply a way for the prison system to temporarily deal with her hunger strike. As we understand it, Tantawan went straight to hospital.

That she is out of jail is perhaps cause for some joy, but the court is actually granting bail for continuing detention. This ludicrous court has set other conditions, including electronic monitoring and has restricted her to her home, except in medical emergencies.

In other words, she has been moved from jail to house arrest.

Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat posted bail and agreed to supervise her.

The courts have reached a new low in their “protection” of the monarchy.

 





Release political prisoners II

25 05 2022

Coconuts Bangkok reports on political prisoner Tantawan Tuatulanon:

Human rights campaigners and pro-democracy activists are calling for Thai authorities to release a young activist who has been on a hunger strike for over a month.

The authorities have been holding a number of young monarchy reform campaigners, and in recent days calls have grown for them to drop the case against a 20-year-old activist who has been on a hunger strike for over a month and reportedly requires medical attention.

Tantawan “Tawan” Tuatulanon has not eaten anything except milk or water since April 20 to protest her ongoing pre-trial detention and should be immediately transferred to a hospital, legal reform group Thai Lawyers for Human Rights said yesterday. It said her life was in danger as her hunger strike continues, adding that the activist could barely move and faints several times a day. She also suffers from bleeding gums and weight loss.

The Manushya Foundation said: “This is unacceptable injustice and another example of the government waging war against pro-democracy students. Tawan must be released!”

Sunai Phasuk, Senior Thailand researcher at Human Rights Watch stated: “The lengthened pre-trial detention of Tawan and other activists is brutal and shows Thailand’s disregard of human rights and fair trial standards…”. He added that Tantawan’s hunger strike is “a display of Tawan’s bravery and commitment to civil disobedience to resist abusive authoritarian powers…”.

Sunai thinks the regime “believes that those who support the reform movement will eventually dissipate from public attention if they are held in prison.” We at PPT think that this is only part of the story. The regime wants to silence them, punish them, torture them.

Pornpen Khongkanchankiet, the director of Cross Cultural Foundation,observed that “detention without a guilty verdict and hefty bail fees amount to a violation of human rights.”

She ads that “Tawan’s activism is one step forward for the movement in unveiling the government’s problematic response to those who disagree with the status quo.” Her hunger strike by Tawan and others amounts to “sacrificing themselves to conduct an autopsy on our judicial system…. And it’s showing something ugly, something primitive, uncivilized. So now they are sacrificing themselves to show the international community, and the elder generation, this broken system.”

 





Release political prisoners I

24 05 2022

Human Rights Watch has issued a statement against the pre-trial detention of activists and the failure to provide bail:

Thai authorities should immediately drop the charges and release pro-democracy activists detained for insulting the monarchy [PPT: they mean Article 112]…. Tantawan “Tawan” Tuatulanon, who has been on a hunger strike since April 20, 2022, to protest her pre-trial detention, should be transferred to a hospital for urgent medical supervision.

“Thai authorities should drop the cases against Tantawan and others unjustly charged for their peaceful protests demanding reforms, or at least be immediately released on bail,” said Elaine Pearson, acting Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Holding activists in lengthy pre-trial detention for the peaceful exercise of their rights is punitive and unjust.”

Tantawan, 20, who is affiliated with the pro-democracy Draconis Revolution group, has advocated reforming the monarchy and abolishing Thailand’s draconian lese majeste (insulting the monarchy) law. She has been charged with various criminal offenses, including lese majeste under article 112 of the Criminal Code for conducting a public opinion poll about royal motorcades on February 8, and posting a live Facebook broadcast criticizing the monarchy on March 5. Since April 20, the authorities have held her in pre-trial detention, which the Bangkok Criminal Court has repeatedly extended.

Other critics of the monarchy charged with lese majeste offenses in connection with the same public opinion poll are Netiporn “Bung” Sanesangkhom and Nutthanit “Bai Por” Duangmusit from the Thalu Wang group. The authorities detained them both on May 3. The authorities also arrested Sophon “Get” Surariddhidhamrong, an activist from the Mok Luang Rim Nam group, on May 1 on lese majeste charges for giving a speech at a political rally on April 22 criticizing the monarchy. He also has been put in pre-trial detention….

The Thai government should stop punishing peaceful dissenters and demonstrate respect for human rights by permitting all viewpoints,” Pearson 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 law obligations.”





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.





Lese majeste torture for the monarch

18 05 2022

As we have posted several times over several years, the judiciary and regime have co-operated to make the lives of those charged with lese majeste as difficult as possible. Indeed, so vicious has this been that we consider it amounts to lese majeste torture, with judges, prosecutors, and jailers united in “protecting” the monarchy. In other words, they torture for the king.

The most recent example of the vicious decision-making that keeps a person accused under Article 112 locked up involves Tantawan Tuatulanon. This 20 year-old is considered a dangerous threat to one of the world’s most powerful monarchs simply because she questions his some of the privileges he’s accrued.

Thai PBS reports that her most recent bail application, yesterday, was rejected. The Criminal Court dismissed Move Forward Party Leader Pita Limjaroenrat’s offer as the guarantor for bail “because Pita’s MP pay slip was not submitted with the application.” The court required “a pay slip to prove he [Pita] receives a salary…”. Yes, seriously. Obviously, the court intends to punish and seeks any loophole to continue to deny bail.

The political court also said “there were no other special reasons to grant bail.” Political prisoners in Thailand are treated as “evil” and not deserving of the bail that is usually provided to murderers, rapists, and torturers.

Pita actually did submit “a letter of certification of his salary issued by the Office of the Secretary-General of the Parliament, as a bond for the bail of Tantawan…”. But the court apparently wanted the pay slip. Yes, seriously.

Police opposed bail, saying they were still investigating. The court “granted permission for the police to detain the accused for only five more days, pending further investigation.”





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:








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