Triumph labour leaders bailed

Two leaders of the Triumph labour union, who were charged with inciting unrest and blocking roads during their protests at Government House and Parliament in late August, have been granted bail with academics from Chulalongkorn University as guarantors.

On 18 Nov, Triumph labour union Secretary-General Bunrod Saiwong and advisor Jitra Kotchadet, together with their lawyer from the Lawyers Council of Thailand, went to Dusit Police Station, following arrest warrants issued on 27 Aug.

They were charged with gathering in a group of 10 or more people and inciting unrest under Sections 215 and 216 of the Criminal Code, and blocking roads under Section 108 of the Land Traffic Act.

They denied all charges.

Pitch Pongsawat and Suda Rangkupan offered their positions as lecturers at the Faculty of Political Science and the Faculty of Arts of Chulalongkorn University respectively as bail guarantees, which were set by police at Bt100,000 each.  The police agreed to bail.

The case has been forwarded to the prosecution.

Sunthorn Bunyod, a labour activist, who has been issued an arrest warrant on the same charges, did not show up, as he could not be contacted, according to the union leaders.

About 100 union members also came to give their leaders moral support.

Jitra said that the charges would not affect their decision to hold further protests, because they believed they did nothing wrong.  And they would not resist further police arrests.  Workers have no other choice than staging rallies to make their demands.

Freedom of assembly is a constitutional right, and their gatherings are peaceful; if the government does not want to see any protests, it must solve the problems of the workers, she said.     

Section 215 of the Criminal Code on leading or ordering public unrest carries a maximum of 5 years in prison or a 10,000 baht fine or both, and Section 216 for ignoring police orders to cease unrest carries a maximum of 3 years in prison or a 6,000 baht fine, or both.

Section 108 of the Land Traffic Act penalizes offenders with a maximum 500 baht fine.