After years of waiting for Amnesty International's support, lese majeste detainees hope smuggled letter will bring NGO on board
The following is an English translation of a letter addressed directly to Amnesty International from a political prisoner in Thailand, Thanthawut Taweewarodomkul, who was sentenced to 13 years imprisonment for breaching Thailand's draconian lese majeste law.
Scans of the original hand-written Thai version can be found here and here. It was smuggled out of the Bangkok Remand prison and then to London where it was hand-delivered today (June 11, 2012) to Amnesty International by a former Thai National Human Rights' Commissioner, Jaran Ditapichai. Thanthawat also requested that the letter be published.
In this letter Thanthawat beseeches Amnesty to assist the prisoners and bring their situation to international attention and states, "So far, we have never been contacted by or received any attention from Amnesty International."
Let's hope that situation changes - Amnesty's abandonment of Thailand's lese majeste prisoners is a terrible stain on this highly-respected organisation's reputation and must end as soon as possible.
Re: Request for aid for lèse-majesté law and political prisoners in Thailand after September 19, 2006 coup.
Bangkok Remand Prison
May 14th 2012.
Dear Amnesty International,
My name is Thanthawut Taweewarodomkul; I am a 40 years old lèse-majesté prisoner who received a 13-year sentence – I have been incarcerated for 2 years and 1 month and was not released on bail while awaiting for my trial. At present I have just withdrawn my appeal because I am applying for a royal pardon. 7 other lèse-majesté law prisoners also decided to drop their appeals and chose to apply for the royal pardon as well.
Besides lèse-majesté law prisoners, many others have been arrested and charged during political demonstrations since the 2006 coup – they are now detained in Laksi prison in Bangkok and many other places in Thailand. All of them have been prosecuted because they exercised their civil and political rights to demand democracy as citizens of their country.
But we have never been treated justly; our basic rights such as right to bail, right to be treated with respect and dignity as prisoners of conscience and political prisoners, which are guaranteed by international laws, have been denied. The authorities have physically assaulted many of the prisoners. Many prisoners have been put in very crowded cells and refused proper medical treatment which led to the death of Amphon Tangnoppakul aka Ar Kong who was 62 years and died of advanced stage of cancer on May 8, 2012 – he didn’t receive proper care and medical treatment.
Up until now, we have been suffering physically and mentally from incarceration. Many have been incarcerated for over 2 years without being allowed bail even though the governmental organizations and human right organizations in Thailand and overseas have continually been trying to help out.
So we now hope that Amnesty International, an organisation that is widely respected because of its outstanding human rights work and which has a huge global network, including in Thailand, would be able to help us out.
So far, we have never been contacted by or received any attention from Amnesty International in Thailand at all. We are deeply sad about this but we still hope that one day, Amnesty International, might start to pay attention to us.
At the moment, Thailand has a democratically elected government and its policy is to create reconciliation in Thailand, a country that has been deeply divided since the 2006 coup. Many organizations in Thailand and overseas have been working together to create reconciliation as soon as possible.
We, therefore, hope that Amnesty International will be part of this reconciliation process in Thailand by doing everything it can to ensure that the basic rights of incarcerated political prisoners meet international standards. We will be very happy if Amnesty International does this.
Furthermore, we hope to see peace in Thailand as soon as possible. We have always respected and believed in democracy governance with the King as the head of state and we are ready to do everything to make the country become normal again.
Finally, we hope that you will consider lending us some help and we are looking forward to the day you are able to do so.
Lèse-majesté law prisoner writing on behalf of 55 incarcerated political prisoners in Thailand.