On 2 Dec, the Social Move group of activists visited Daranee Charnchoengsilpakul at Khlong Prem Prison. They found her still active in discussing political issues, despite the fact that inmates are supposed to be kept away from politics through the prison’s various means of censorship. She was very happy to have received letters from sympathizers in many countries.
While life inside was as unpleasant as usual, one piece of good news was that her long suffering from a molar abscess had finally received attention from the prison, and she will undergo an operation early next year. The group of activists reported their visit on Prachatai and the Same Sky webboard.
Inmates are allowed to meet visitors for 15 minutes once a day on weekdays. When the activists met Daranee, they introduced themselves as they had never met before. The writer of the report said that she initially wanted to identify herself as ‘a world friend’ of Daranee’s in the prison form she had to fill in for the visit, but she decided to write just ‘friend’ so as to avoid offending the prison officials.
Once the writer had introduced herself as a master’s degree student in political science, Daranee instantly started talk about current political issues, including the performance of the incumbent Democrat-led government, and economic problems. Daranee was apparently happy to talk about these issues. She did not seem disheartened or fearful about the country’s political situation, despite the fact that it was the reason for her detention.
The writer told her that ‘a certain academic from afar’ and other friends had sent their regards. She said ‘thank you’ for them all.
Daranee told the activists that the prison was crowded, and this affected the inmates psychologically as it was easy to get annoyed and irritated with each other', resulting in quarrels. She said there should be other ways to deal with convicts such as probation, because incarceration would only have a bad effect on inmates.
According to Daranee, female convicts do not have much to do each day as a result of prison policy. She wanted the activists to campaign for female convicts to have more activities such as cooking, gardening or growing vegetables, as these would help the inmates to enjoy their time and improve their self-esteem. She wondered why male convicts at Khlong Prem were allowed to do these things, while they were not.
Daranee told the activists that she will have an operation for her molar abscess early next year, but she was not sure where it would take place. She smilingly said that her long suffering finally got the attention from negligent officials, thanks to Princess Bajrakitiyabha’s Enhancing Lives of Female Inmates (ELFI) initiative, with prompting from an Asian human rights organization [probably the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) - Prachatai] and the EU. She went on to complain about poor health care inside the prison, and told the activists to help campaign for improvement.
Daranee said that inmates were prevented from getting political news. At specific times, they were allowed to see selected television programmes copied onto DVDs by the prison; these were Thai and Korean soap operas.
In the library, inmates had only old issues of women’s magazines, the latest issue being 2007.
Daranee was happy to report that she had received letters from Vietnam, the US, Australia, the Netherlands, etc. She felt grateful, and wished for more letters.
She told the activists to write about her in various websites, and make the headline ‘Better shoot me’, because she would rather die than stay in prison.
The activists told her that she was a symbol of injustice in Thailand, and was getting more and more attention…
The light then went off. 15 minutes were over.