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UPDATE: Thai political activists left to rot in jail

Bob Scott

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UPDATE

Tantawan “Tawan” Tuatulanon was granted bail by a Thai court today to get hospital treatment after falling seriously ill.

The 20 year old activist was immediately rushed to hospital for treatment after the Criminal Court gave permission at 1:30pm for her to be released from custody and placed under house arrest as she awaits trial on charges that she insulted the monarchy.

Tawan was granted bail for 30 days on the condition she wear a monitoring device, not leave her residence without court permission, and not do anything deemed to “insult” the Thai monarchy.

The court also agreed to appoint Pita Limjaroenrat, a businessman-turned-MP of opposition Move Forward Party, as Tawan’s supervisor.

ORIGINAL STORY

Human rights activists have demanded the immediate release of political-reform prisoners from Thailand’s jails.

Protest groups say they are concerned about the health and safety of the young Thais jailed and fear they could die if they don’t get urgent medical treatment.

Thai authorities are well versed in targeting reform activists and a number of protesters have been thrown in jail and left to rot.

Thantawan ‘Tawan’ Tuatalonon, and other activists, including Nutthanit “Bai Por” Duangmusit, Netiporn “Pakbung” Sanesangkhom, and Sophon ‘Get’ Surariddhidhamrong, have been arrested over the past two months on a range of legal charges, including violating Section 112, or ‘lese majeste.’ Lese majeste is a French term which means “to do wrong to majesty.” And in Thailand criticizing the monarchy can result in a 15-year prison sentence.

The 20 year old Tawan has been repeatedly denied bail and on April 20 went on hunger strike in protest of her incarceration. Human rights groups and lawyers have requested immediate healthcare, because her health is rapidly deteriorating behind bars, but it has been ignored

Sunai Phasuk, Senior Thailand researcher of New York-based NGO, Human Rights Watch, says “The lengthened pre-trial detention of Tawan and other activists is brutal and shows Thailand’s disregard of human rights and fair trial standards.”

“Tawan has been on hunger strike for 33 days now to protest such unjust and unwarranted treatment. This is a display of Tawan’s bravery and commitment to civil disobedience to resist abusive authoritarian powers.”

Kunthika Nutcharut, an attorney for Thai Lawyers for Human Rights who is working on Tawan’s case, went to visit the prominent activist yesterday and says she has “lost at least five kilos, her gums are bleeding, and needs help to walk.”

Over the past year, a number of democracy activists have become ill under similar circumstances while in detention.

Anon Nampha, a human rights lawyer and one of the first to call for monarchy reform, fell ill last year while in pre-trial detention. Panupong ‘Mike’ Jadnok contracted COVID-19 as he languished in prison last year. Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, was hospitalised after a hunger fast in December.

Sunai says the government and judiciary system have continued to adopt an “out of sight, out of mind” tactic to handle these kinds of cases, often ignoring their medical conditions.

Pornpen Khongkanchankiet, the director of Cross Cultural Foundation, says Thailand increasingly uses judicial harassment against activists, especially youth calling for reform.

SOURCE: Thai Enquirer

 

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Bob is a published author and worked in Europe and Asia as a journalist for over 25 years.

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