Pai Dao Din misses human rights award acceptance ceremony in S. Korea

A provincial court has once again refused to release Pai Dao Din, making it impossible for the activist to attend a human rights award ceremony in South Korea.

On 8 May 2017, the Provincial Court of Khon Kaen denied a bail request with 700,000 baht surety for Jatuphat ‘Pai’ Boonpattararaksa, a law student and key member of the New Democracy Movement (NDM).

The court reasoned that the activist mocked the authority of the state without fearing the law and is also battling another charge for violating the Public Referendum Act and the junta’s political gathering ban in his previous political activities.

The court dismissed the argument of Wiboon Boonpattararaksa, the father of Jatuphat, that his son should be freed in order to travel to South Korea to accept the 2017 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights as the award ceremony will be held from 16-18 May in Gwangju, South Korea.

Earlier on 2 May, the Thai Embassy in Seoul, South Korea, sent a letter to the May 18 Memorial Foundation to clarify that Jatuphat ‘is currently detained on charges of violation against Section 112 (lèse majesté law) of the Criminal Code’ and violated bail conditions.

“His case is being deliberated fairly by the Court of Justice. I would also like to stress that Thailand supports and highly values freedom of expressions,” reads part of the letter addressed to the foundation who declared Jatuphat as a winner to its prestigious human rights award.  

The award commemorates the Democratic Uprising or the Gwangju Uprising of 18 May 1980, when Gwangju citizens battled the Chun Doo-hwan dictatorship of South Korea. Estimates suggest that up to 606 people may have died during the crackdown by government troops.

The only other Thai to have won the award was Angkhana Neelaphaijit in 2006.  She was cited because she 'was unrelenting in her efforts to obtain justice, unsparing in her criticism of government authorities, and has taken the lead role as an articulate and courageous spokesperson for the families of disappeared persons in Thailand.'  Angkhana is now a National Human Rights Commissioner.

Jatuphat is accused of violating the lèse majesté law for sharing on his Facebook account a controversial biography of King Vajiralongkorn published by BBC Thai. He is the first person to be arrested for lèse majesté under the reign of the new King.

Shortly after he was arrested for lèse majesté on 3 December 2016, the court released him on bail. However, his bail was revoked on 22 December after he posted a satirical message mocking the authorities on his Facebook account. The message read, “Economy is poor but they (authorities) took my money for bail.”

Despite the fact that more than 2,000 people shared the same article on Facebook and millions read it, he was the only one arrested for lèse majesté.

The court has consistently refused to release him on bail, reasoning that the activist mocked the authority of the state without fearing the law and is also battling other charges for violating the Public Referendum Act and the junta’s political gathering ban in his previous political activities.

Jatuphat ‘Pai’ Boonpattararaksa

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