Thanthawut Taweewarodomkul (also known as “Num” and “Num Red Non”) is a 40-year-old father currently serving a 13-year sentence for alleged violations of Article 112 and the 2007 Computer Crimes Act. In September 2012, he withdrew his appeal petition as part of the process of applying for a pardon. Shortly thereafter, he wrote this letter to his lawyer, Anon Numpa, who then posted it on the website of the Ratsadornprasong Legal Institute. Thanthawut’s recognition that those who are imprisoned are no different than those people who remain outside is an urgent and important one.
The “Droplet Email Project” (โครงการอิเมล์หยดน้ำ) that Thanthawut mentions is a project he initiated to send emails to political prisoners. More information can be found about the project here, which notes that the name came from a comment Thanthawut made that emails, postcards, and visits to political prisoners function as “droplets of encouragement” for them to keep fighting and struggling. Like droplets of water to someone who is thirsty, encouragement is necessary.
SAT, SEP 15, 2012
Hello Khun Anon,
And just like that, after waiting a long time, I am now a No. Cho. (1) Thank you very much for all of your help and the true solidarity from all of the friends who showed up to offer me encouragement on that day, even though it was to withdraw my appeal. I believe, however, that friends outside will understand my decision. I did not make this decision for myself. I made it for the future of Nong Web, my son. And I wrote a letter to tell my little one. Even though I do not know when I will be freed, this was one more step to get to the point of freedom. It is my hope that nothing will delay or derail it in the final stage.
In the year and a half since my case was decided, I have not been in the world outside the prison. The day [of withdrawing my appeal] was the first time that I have been out in the open air. I glimpsed ordinary outside life, life like my own before I entered prison. I watched and smiled with happiness. I daydreamed and in my imagination I could see a car. I was driving and Nong Web was sitting close to me. We were going on a trip. Oh! Simply thinking about this brought me happiness.
I have received encouraging emails urging me to continue on from the “Droplet Email” Project. I want to thank those who have sent emails and those who have visited me here too. I am trying to find a way to send replies to those who wrote, who include Khun Som, Khun Thanet, Khun Nucharee, Khun Karnt, Ajarn Yukti, Khun Lee, Khun Jum Jim, Khun Thiraphong, Khun Plaen, Khun Tee, Khun Joehawaii, Khun Pravitchayo, Khun Pornpit, Nong Leng, Khun Tuan, and Khun Art Chiang Mai. I hope there will be an opportunity to hear more news from them through the Droplet Email Project. I want to ask people to please send encouragement to friends at Laksi Prison also (2). Even though some of us there are high-level people, those of us who are there are important people, their feelings are not any different. Through the Project, I myself send encouragement to friends who are there.
One younger friend came to visit and told me that Ajarn Somsak Jeamteerasakul spoke about me and sent his wishes to me. I want to thank Ajarn Somsak for considering and thinking about an unimportant person like me. For certain, within the group of people charged under Article 112, the majority of people only know about P’Somyos and Ajarn Surachai. It is also true that the majority of people know more about Jatuporn Prompan, Jeng Dokchik, etc., than about ordinary people like us who are imprisoned. We must persevere and struggle with greater hardship, many times over, than famous people do. I myself am lucky, because I have Khun Anon, Khun Pla and the Prachatai team. They help provide a channel for unimportant prisoners to express ourselves. By now, people outside the prison have plenty of information about us, but the results have been spare. I want to tell Ajarn Somsak and everyone else that “Perhaps I would not have to do the duty of helping our friends, if our side [outside] sympathized with us more.”
Another thing that made me feel very warm is that today, P’Suchart Nakbangsai [or Warawut Thanangkorn, his real name], or, as I called him, P’Chart, my older brother whose ideals are very close to mine, came to see me. He has already been released and made good on his promise that “I will not forget you.” He has passed through the exit door of the prison, made it out. To put it simply, he has done what is difficult for some of us (one more … me … ee-ee). In short, please tell P’Suchart that I am very comforted by what he has done, and what he promised to do. One day, if I have the opportunity, I am going to do the same things that P’Suchart has done. Because we are ‘the people.’ As far as finding me a wife, no need for him to do it. By the time I get out, I will be too old. Hee hee.
Something else that I and other friends in the 112 family feel very good about is the comeback of a friend who shared our same fate, someone I knew only from the pages of the newspaper, Khun Suwicha Thakor. [Suwicha has recently been seen active again on some internet forums.] The day that I was arrested was close to the day that Khun Suwicha was released. My sense is that I think that because Khun Suwicha is also the father of a small child, he can well understand my situation. Up until today, I still clearly remember the picture of Khun Suwicha and his children in the Bangkok Post. I used to wonder what happened to Khun Suwicha after he was released from prison. Today I have the answer. I consider him another important force to help people in Thailand and the world understand the nefariousness of this law. What matters is that I realize that Khun Suwicha, P’Chart, and I, share the same thinking [ideas or feelings]: that is, feeling grateful to the people, the compatriots and our friends around the world, as well as losing faith in politicians in this country. I offer thanks [to them] on behalf of all 112 friends for their caring and for being an example to the people who share their fate, like me to have faith and come together and act justly in the future.
The inspiration for this came from what P’Chart said to me. Khun Anon, please transcribe the recording and give me the transcript to read. This would be a tremendous gift.
Faithful and steadfast,
Num Daeng Non (Red Non)
Father of Nong Web
P.S., Your new haircut is very handsome!
(1) “No. Cho.” is a transliteration of the Thai abbreviation “นช.” which is shortened from “นักโทษเด็ดขาดชาย,” which means a male prisoner whose case has reached the final point. One’s case reaches this point either when the case reaches the Supreme Court, or the prisoner ceases to appeal. When Thanthawut withdrew his appeal, his status changed to No. Cho. This means he is now eligible to apply for a pardon.
(2) There are 47 Red Shirt political prisoners in a special prison in Laksi.