Rights groups slam court’s decision to deny bail for protest leaders

Human rights groups spoke out Wednesday against the decision by a Thai court to deny bail to four protests leaders and hold them in custody pending trial for charges under the country’s strict lese-majeste laws.

“When the feudal drums have been released, common people like us will not fear anything in this incoming war,” pro-democracy leader Mike Rayong shared on his Twitter. Several activists called for further street rallies to support the prisoners and demand their release.

“I will meet you all soon, my friends who love democracy. Victory takes place in the hearts of the people,” Rayong wrote.

The Criminal Court Tuesday refused bail for protest leaders Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak, Anon Nampa, Somyot Pruksakasemsuk, and Patiwat “Morlum Bank” Saraiyaem. The four were remanded in custody after attending the court proceedings, and are likely to remain in jail until a further, successful bail application, or the conclusion of their trial.

The four are charged with lese-majeste under Article 112 for protesting at Sanam Luang on 19 September.

“Prisons can imprisons the stars, but they can’t stop them from shining,” wrote Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul.

“The lethal weapon of # 112 is the length of imprisonment before the court decides whether the charges are legitimate or not, claiming that the following cases have serious penalties and are threats to the security of the country,” shared Chaithawat Tulathon, MP of the Move Forward Party.

“This is a means to force the accused to surrender and create fear in society. What they want to contain is not just people and their bodies, but their minds and ideas. The prisoners of Article 112 are Prisoners of Thought.”

“Article 112 has officially returned as a political instrument,” Dr Prajak Kongkirati, assistant professor at Thammasat University’s Faculty of Political Science wrote on his Twitter.

“In a desperate attempt to stop pro-democracy protests, the Thai government is now resorting to holding critics in pre-trial detention on lese-majeste charges for speeches at a peaceful rally,” Human Rights Watch Asia Director Brad Adams wrote. “Release @arnonnampha, @paritchi, @pruksakasemsuk & Patiwat Saraiyaem!”

The South Korea-based May 18 Memorial Foundation also called for their release. “The four activists are not criminals to be incarcerated but defenders of democracy,” stated the foundation, which awarded human rights lawyer Anon Nampa with the 2021 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights. “The May 18 Memorial Foundation denounces the Thai government that has consistently oppressed the pro-democracy movement of its people.”


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