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Detained protest leaders taken out of their cells at 2am for Covid-19 testing, Justice Ministry says

Maya Taylor

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Detained protest leaders taken out of their cells at 2am for Covid-19 testing, Justice Ministry says | Thaiger
PHOTO: ฮินะจังปลดแอก / Wikimedia

The Ministry of Justice has denied that there were any sinister motives behind prison officers’ late-night attempts to remove 3 detained protest leaders from their cells. Fellow detainee and human rights lawyer, Anon Nampa, claims the multiple attempts to remove the activists, the latest of which took place at 2am, constituted intimidation. However, the ministry insists prison officers were attempting to take the activists for Covid-19 testing only.

Wallop Nakbua, from the ministry, accuses the activists of refusing to be separated for testing, which is standard procedure following their transfer from Thonburi prison to Bangkok Remand Prison. He says Covid screening of all newly-arrived prisoners is in accordance with guidelines from the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration since the discovery of a new cluster of infections in the Bang Khae district of the capital.

The activists in question are Panupong Jadnok, also known as, “Mike Rayong”, Jatupat Boonpattararaksa, aka, “Pai Daodin”, and Piyarat Chongthep, aka, “Toto”. Wallop says that, following their transfer from Thonburi, they were only quarantined for 7 days, not 14, and therefore needed to be tested for Covid-19, as was done with the other detainees in their cell.

Anon and other fellow activists, suspicious about why Covid testing would be happening so late at night, managed to stop the attempted removal of the detainees. Wallop says the screening started at 11pm due to how long it took officials to prepare the space and equipment needed.

According to a Thai PBS World report, he goes on to say the activists were not harmed in any way, as claimed by Anon. He defends the prison officers, saying they were just trying to follow procedures and if there was a Covid outbreak due to improper screening, officers would have a riot on their hands.

Anon insists the activists’ lives would have been in danger if officers had been allowed to remove them from their cells so late at night. Following the incident, their lawyer, Krisdang Nutcharat, again requested bail for the detained activists but it was once again refused.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Thailand

Human Rights Watch calls on Thailand to release activists detained on lèse majesté charges

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Human Rights Watch calls on Thailand to release activists detained on lèse majesté charges | Thaiger
Facebook_เพนกวิน - พริษฐ์ ชิวารักษ์_Parit_Chiwarak

The Human Rights Watch is calling on Thai authorities to release pro-democracy activists who are detained on lèse majesté charges which carry an up to 15 year prison sentence for insulting the Thai Monarchy. HRW says the charges should be dropped because the activists’ rights to freedom of expression and assembly have been violated.

2 of the detained activists, both students at Thammasat University, have been on a hunger strike as a form of protest against their pre-trial detention. Parit Chiwarak has been on a hunger strike for 35 days and Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul has been on the strike for 21 days. HRW says the 2 activists should be released and transferred to a hospital for medical supervision.

HRW Asia director Brad Adams says Thai authorities should immediately drop the cases against Parit, Panusaya as well as others who were “unjustly charged for their peaceful pro-democracy protests, but at a minimum, they should be released on bail.”

“Holding activists in detention prior to trial and conviction, which could be years away, seems aimed to unfairly punish them rather than fulfill a legitimate state interest.”

Back in February, Parit along with 3 other prominent activists Arnon Nampha, Somyot Pruksakasemsuk and Patiwat Saraiyaem, were ordered to pre-trial detention for charges related to their actions in the pro-democracy movement. Last month, Panusaya and 2 other democracy activists, Jatupat Boonpattararaksa, and Panupong Jadnok, were ordered by the Bangkok Criminal Court into pre-trial detention for lèse majesté charges relating to speeches demanding monarchy reform at a September rally.

Under Section 112 of Thailand’s Criminal Code, known as the lèse majesté law, insulting or defaming the Thai Monarchy carries a maximum punishment of 15 years in prison. The activists were also charged with sedition under Section 116 of the Criminal Code, which carries a punishment of up to 7 years in prison.

The activists have been denied bail and the HRW says they could end up being detained for years until their trial is concluded. HRW says holding the activists in pre-trial detention on lèse majesté charges violates their rights under international human rights law.

With the rise of the student-led pro-democracy movement, the number of lèse majesté charges has increased over the past year. For nearly 3 years prior, lèse majesté prosecutions never made it to court. Over the past year, 82 people have faced lèse majesté charges for actions at rallies or on social media related to the pro-democracy movement. Adams calls it a “witch hunt.”

“The Thai government should stop this witch hunt against peaceful dissenters and demonstrate respect for human rights by permitting all viewpoints… The government should engage with United Nations experts and others about amending the lèse majesté law to bring it into compliance with Thailand’s international human rights law obligations.”

SOURCE: Human Rights Watch

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Protests

Pro-democracy leader “Penguin” has bail application rejected – again

Maya Taylor

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Pro-democracy leader “Penguin” has bail application rejected – again | Thaiger
PHOTO: Facebook / เพนกวิน - พริษฐ์ ชิวารักษ์ Parit Chiwarak

The Criminal Court in Bangkok has once again rejected a bail application from anti-government activist, Parit Chiwarak, aka, “Penguin”. The leader of the pro-democracy Ratsadon group had his application refused yesterday, on the basis that there was no reason to overturn previous decisions made by the Criminal and Appeals courts. The bail application had been lodged by Parit’s mother, Sureerat Chiwarak, with a bond of 200,000 baht.

According to a Thai PBS World report, Parit told judges at the Criminal Court that he didn’t recognise judicial proceedings. He said he did not want to defend himself during the hearing as previous rejections of his bail applications meant he had not received justice and this made it impossible for him to find the evidence he needs for his defence. It’s understood the protest leader has also asked his lawyer, Krisadang Nutcharas, to resign.

Parit is being charged with a number of offences, including lèse majesté charges, for his role in an anti-government protest at Bangkok’s Democracy Monument last November. It’s understood that while in prison, he went on a partial hunger strike and had to be put on an IV drip after prison officers found him in a weak state. The court has set a date of June 25 to examine witnesses for the prosecution, while defence witnesses will be examined on August 13.

Thailand has been rocked by anti-government protests since July of last year, although the recent resurgence of the Covid-19 virus has seen such activity die down. Pro-democracy activists are calling for the resignation of PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, for a re-write of the Thai constitution, and for fresh elections to be held. They are also calling for reform of the monarchy, normally a highly-taboo subject in the Kingdom.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Red paint in Burmese streets mark 700+ deaths

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Red paint in Burmese streets mark 700+ deaths | Thaiger
A note from a protester on the streets of Yangon: “Dear UN, How are you? I hope you are well. As for Myanmar, we are dying.”

Marking over 700 deaths in the Burmese military crackdown, anti-coup protesters in Myanmar are splashing red paint across the streets of Yangon to represent the blood of those killed in the growing crisis. Myanmar has ground to a halt as the military junta attempt to silence opposition to their February 1 takeover with deadly force. 714 deaths have been verified by local monitoring groups, but they warn the actual number may be much higher.

The economy and daily functioning of the country is immobile, the internet has been cut off to many citizens, even Myanmar’s Thingyan New Year festival, similar to Thailand’s Songkran holiday, has been cancelled. Instead of water fights in the street, protesters explained they used the holiday to draw a parallel, splashing red paint “blood” instead to draw attention to the Burmese deaths at the hands of the military.

“The purpose of the “bleeding strike” is to remember the martyrs who died in the struggle for democracy. We should not be happy during this festival time. We have to feel sadness for the martyrs who are bleeding and we must continue to fight this battle in any way we can.”

Simple but powerful signs and notes were found amongst the blood protest with phrases like, “blood has not dried on the streets,” “overthrow the era of fear,” and “hope our military dictatorship fails.” Perhaps most poignant was a note found on red-painted streets reading, “Dear UN, How are you? I hope you are well. As for Myanmar, we are dying.”

The UN fears that a Syrian-style conflict is around the corner for Myanmar, calling on countries to take immediate steps against the military junta, citing possible crimes against humanity. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet draws the Syria comparison, worried a full-blown Burmese civil war could parallel the Syrian war that has led to 400,000 deaths and 6 million refugees. While some countries have enacted sanctions, infighting has delayed meaningful action with the EU claiming Russia and China are blocking possible UN arms embargos.

Meanwhile, the military added many more people to the list of over 260 people including doctors and celebrities they are seeking to arrest for crimes such as spreading dissent or treating injured protesters. 7 protesters in Yangon, 3 in absentia, were sentenced to death for the alleged murder of a suspected informant.

In the northwest of Myanmar, a milk delivery couple were killed by military storming the town of Tamu. And in the Mandalay region, protesters drove motorbikes with red flags supporting imprisoned leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

SOURCE: Channel News Asia

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