Note from Detention: ‘Mor Lam Bank’ Patiwat Saraiyaem

Translator’s Note: This was originally published in Thai ('หมอลำแบงค์' เผยติดคุกไม่เป็นไร แต่ไม่ได้ร้องหมอลำก็เหมือนตาย). Mor lam is a type of Thai song and performance that originates in Isan and Laos and combines poetry, music and dance; Mor lam is the name of the kind of performance and a person who calls it is called a mor lam. ‘Mor Lam Bank’ Patiwat Saraiyaem was arrested on 19 October on accusations of violation of the Emergency Decree and Article 116 (sedition) in relation to his participation in a peaceful protest on 19 September in Bangkok. He previously spent over two years in prison between 2014 and 2016 for his role in “The Wolf Bride,” a play deemed to insult the monarchy.

Patiwat Saraiyaem

Rapipat Khamphichai, the lawyer for ‘Mor Lam Bank’ Patiwat Saraiyaem, released a memo after visiting his client, who is being detained while the investigation into his case takes place. Patiwat is worried about the staff of Seen Song Ton Studio Mor Lam Digital Station. Artists cannot hurt anyone, he explained. If he cannot sing mor lam, it is as if he is no longer alive.

Note from the Lawyer’s Visit to Mor Lam Bank on 21 October 2020

‘Mor Lam Bank’ Patiwat Saraiyaem spoke with tears in his eyes about what he felt 48 hours after being arrested:

What worries him the most are the more than 30 fellow staff on the team. He is worried about how each is going to survive. You have not destroyed the life of Mor Lam Bank alone, but the lives of everyone on the team, and his livelihood and that of everyone on the team.

He viewed his participation in a political event as a form of recreation. A form of relaxation, he went to meet up with friends and people who shared similar thinking. And so, he asked, then is relaxation the reason that he was put into prison?

Mor Lam Bank can withstand life in this prison, but still worries about life outside of prison. He asks everyone to help look after Seen Song Ton Studio Mor Lam Digital Station. Share the posts and click to follow the page in order to learn about the mor lam life. See Song Ton Studio was born from taking the last bundle of money he had to use for what he loves, which is being a mor lam. He had just made my way when the COVID-19 era arrived.

Mor lam is his life. He explained that if he cannot sing, if he cannot dance, it is as if he is no longer alive.

He wants everyone to come out to protect artists. Don’t allow artists to be harmed yet again, to have to suffer yet again. Artists do not hurt anyone. They do good work, he said, they are always righteous.

Mor Lam Bank begs everyone, including all of the officials, to look at the clip from 19 September 2020. Look at the clip and consider how it was that what he said in the clip created problems for the government [as they claim]. How was it agitation? How did it create losses for the nation? He spoke as a person who was impacted to communicate directly with those who hold power. He spoke about the impact on himself. He maintains that what he said was correct and principled.

The police claimed that they had to perform their duty, the soldiers claimed that they had to perform their duty, the prosecutors said they had to perform their duty, up until the judges who had to perform their duty. What about the duty of the mor lam, who creates entertainment and sustains society and the world? On a day when people are asked whether or not they have performed their duty, Mor Lam Bank asks in response, why don’t you allow the mor lam to perform his duty?

If it is not possible to rely on justice, then rely on the vengeance that arises after being impacted. Let this vengeance be like an arrow that pierces their hearts that are replete with wickedness.

Note: He has not yet forgiven anyone for what they have done.

With torment and sorrow, from Mor Lam Bank, Zone 2, Covid Quarantine Zone, Waiting to See Visitors in 14 Days


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