The 14 embattled anti-junta activists were reunited with their families after nearly two weeks of detention. However, they still face charges.
At around 5:30 am on Wednesday, 8 July 2015, prison staff of Bangkok Remand Prison freed the 14 embattled anti-junta activists after the Bangkok Military Court yesterday rejected a custody petition against them.
The 14 were welcomed by families, friends, and a jubilant crowd who camped out at the prison gate to await their release. Many had gone to the military court on Monday morning, together with pro-democracy academics, activists, and many others, to campaign for their unconditional release.
Rangsiman Rome, one of the 14, told the media that he and his friends were not ill-treated during detention and that the group vowed to fight on.
The 13 male activists of the group were transported in a van and dropped in front of the remand prison to be released at around 5:30 am on Wednesday.
Cholticha Jang-rew, the only female activist of the group was first transported to a friend’s house in Bangkok, but was later brought back to the prison gate to be reunited with her family and activist friends.
Together the 14 sang ‘Saeng Dao Haeng Satha’ (the light of faith from the stars) in front of the prison gate, a well-known Thai rally anthem.
They group said that they will continue to campaign for democracy and freedom and that their case should be handled by a civilian court not a military one, since they are civilians.
Despite their release, the 14 activists still have to stand trial for allegedly breaking the junta’s National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Order No. 3/2015, which prohibits any political gathering of five or more persons and Article 116 of the Thai Penal Code, the sedition law. If found guilty, they could face up to 7 years imprisonment.
Yesterday, 7 June, Sunai Phasuk, a researcher of Human Rights Watch, posted a comment on his twitter account “although the military court rejected the custody petition against the 14, they are still charged with a serious case with the penalty of up to 7 years imprisonment. What happened was just meant to improve the image [of the regime] and reduce pressure.”
The 14 embattled anti-junta activists in front of Bangkok Remand Prison on 8 July 2015
Cholticha Jang-rew, the only female activist of the 14 is reunited with her activist friends