Letter from Prison: Penguin to His Mother

A letter from Parit 'Penguin' Chiwarak, a prominent activist, monarchy reform devoter and one among the 4 pro-democracy protest leading figures who are under indefinite detention awaiting lèse-majesté trials after a bail was rejected by the court on 22 February.

Parit Chiwarak and his mother.

Dear Mother,        

Six years ago, you did not stop me when I started out on the path to democracy by holding up a sign protesting Prayuth. You did not forbid me from choosing my own path. You only warned me that struggle might come with a price. I decided that day to accept paying such a price to travel down the road in which I believed. 

My decision that day has led me to pay the price over and over again. The price has come in the form of legal case upon legal case and threats of every sort, including death threats. These are the costs I have borne thus far. But not once have you left me to face the cruelty I have met on the path to democracy alone. You always embrace and encourage me, and today the price I have to pay has reached the level of sacrificing my freedom to maintain my beliefs. The struggle now taking place behind bars in one in which pressure is placed upon my body and soul, and and in which suffering is inflicted which does not leave a visible trace. 

The feudal dictatorship wants to destroy your son from within. They want to make your son so hopeless, dejected, and weary that he steps off the path he has chosen to walk. But your son never loses heart with the path in which he trusts because he knows that you will never leave him alone on that long and difficult path. 

You embrace  and stand next to me in encouragement every time I have to pay the price for democracy.  Even more so this time, as I heard you decided to join the “Walk Through the Sky” event with Older Brother Pai. This makes me especially happy because I know that while I am struggling inside here, you have not abandoned me and have joined my struggle outside. Because of this, my body and soul are strong enough to surmount the trials that I must face. No matter how long it is, I will endure and be steadfast in struggle to maintain the principle that this land belongs to every one of the people and is not the personal property of a single individual.  There is no institution greater than the people.

I want to thank you, mother, for understanding, accepting and providing encouragement throughout on every step I have taken on this path during the past 6 years of struggle. I apologize if the path I have chosen has taken away precious time that a son should give to his mother. But I believe that you understand well that you did not only give birth to a son, but you gave birth to a thinker, dreamer and fighter of the world. Your son’s fight is not only for himself, but for the future of every mother and son in this land. I hope very much that you will be proud that your son is a fighter, just as I am proud that you, my mother, is a fighter. 

Every day and night, no matter where I am, I dream of the time when the long-standing Thai feudal dictatorship will collapse and the Thai people will rise to be the rightful owners of the country.  That will be the day when I no longer have to go out to fight against feudalism anymore and I can return home into your embrace, mother, who loves me and whom I love the most of all in my life.  For now, I will look after myself and keep my soul and dignity as a fighter intact until the day I am released and can embrace you again. Our family will be warm, happy and together, as every family in Thailand should be.

Before long, the son who has left you will return,

Love and miss you the most,

Penguin

Zone 2, Cell 7

Bangkok Remand Prison

23 February 2021

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