13 of 14 anti-junta activists shave their heads to protest separate detention

The Thai authorities have put 13 of the 14 anti-junta activists into separate prison cells, a decision which the activists in detention have protested, saying that it has political implications.

On Thursday, 2 June 2015, Bangkok Remand Prison separated the 13 male anti-junta activists in custody into groups of 2-3 and detained them in different compounds of the prison.

According to Rangsiman Rome, one of the 13, the authorities’ decision to separate them has political implications. He said that the measure must have been handed down from the junta which intends to pressure the activists into giving in.

From left to right, Worachet Pakeerut, a law academic from the Nitirat Group and Niran Pitakwatchara, a Commissioner dealing with political and civil rights of the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand (NHRC) at Bangkok Remand Prison on 2 July 2015.  

He added that other crime suspects who were sent to the remand prison at around the same time as the activist group have not been put into separate compounds.  

One of the 13 detained activists, Jatupat Boonpattararaksa, aka Pai, from Dao Din student activist group based in the northeastern province of Khon Kaen, believes that the authorities want to obstruct them from communicating with each other.

All the 13 decided to shave their heads to protest the authorities’ decision to separate them from each other.

On the same day, Niran Pitakwatchara, a Commissioner dealing with political and civil rights of the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand (NHRC) went to Bangkok Remand Prison to visit the embattled activists.

He expressed concerns for the safety of the 13 activists once they are being separated and the fact they will not be able to communicate as a group.  

He added that the authorities should have been more concerned for their safety.

Besides Niran, many academics and activists also came to the prison to give moral support to the anti-junta activists.  These include Piyabutr Saengkanokkul and Worachet Pakeerut, Thammasat University law academics from the Nitirat Group, which has campaigned for reform of Thailand’s lèse majesté law.