7 activists denied bail once again; student hunger striker in declining health

The Criminal Court has once again denied bail for 7 activists detained on royal defamation charges under Section 112, one of whom is Parit Chiwarak, whose health is reported to be rapidly declining due to his hunger strike.

A crowd of supporters gathered in front of the Criminal Court building to wait for the decision on the activists' bail request.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) reported that its lawyers went to the Criminal Court today (29 April) to request bail again for Parit Chiwarak, Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, Anon Nampa, Chukiat Sangwong, and Parinya Cheewinkulpatom, who are detained pending trial on royal defamation charges under Section 112.

Parit, who has been detained for 80 days so far, has been on a hunger strike for the past 45 days to protest against the denial of bail for detained activists.

Lawyer Kritsadang Nutcharat said that one of the reasons for requesting bail is concern over the spread of Covid-19 in prisons, because even the court is concerned that the virus will spread among court officials. He also said that there is no more reason to keep the activists in detention, and that it would be acceptable if the court set a condition related with their trial. He also mentioned that the court previously granted bail for activists Jatupat Boonpattaraksa and Somyot Pruksakasemsuk.

He also said that he visited Parit on 28 April and spoke to him through teleconference. During the visit, Parit told Kritsadang that he has not been able to sleep, his skin is dry, and that he suffers from nausea and fatigue. Blood was also found in his stools, but he has not been sent to the Medical Correctional Institution to have his condition assessed.

Kritsadang said that, in addition to the bail request, they have also requested that the court allow Parit to be taken to Rama 9 Hospital for 30 days, because the hospital is better equiooed than the Medical Correctional Institution, and that the court may continue to detain him after the 30-day period, but the court has already dismissed that request.  

Sureerat Chiwarak

Parit’s mother Sureerat Chiwarak also told reporters after she filed the bail request for her son that, while the Department of Corrections has denied that Parit's condition has worsened, she learned about his condition from what Parit said and Parit knows his own condition best.

She also said that she does not want him to be treated at the Medical Correctional Institution, where many inmates with Covid-19 are being treated. She would like her son released so she can care for him herself, and asked how the authorities will take responsibility if anything happens to him.

"I will fight to the very end. I will not lose my son," Sureerat said.

Meanwhile, a crowd of supporters started forming in front of the Bangkok Criminal Court building on Ratchadapisek Road at 12.00.

Benja Apan

At 13.45, student activist Benja Apan and a group of other students came to the Criminal Court to submit an open letter demanding the release of detained activists, signed by over 10,000 people.

Benja said during a speech in front of the court building that the students acted because they would like society to improve and for the monarchy to co-exist with society under the law. They are not a threat to national security. They are living humans and are students in their 20's.

Benja called on the court to grant bail to the detained activists and release them, because they have not yet been declared guilty and should have their humanity returned to them.

At 15.02, since judge Chanathip Muanpawong did not come to receive the letter, Benja scattered pieces of paper printed with the names of 11,035 people who signed the letter on the steps to the court building, but was blocked from going inside by court officials.

Benja scattering pieces of paper printed with names of people who signed the open letter on the steps to the Criminal Court building

The crowd waited in front of the court building throughout the afternoon. At 16.50, Benja announced to the crowd that the court has postponed the decision on the bail requests to Friday morning (30 April), and that the hearing will be held online.

She demanded that the court read the ruling in person that evening, and said that the student activist group United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration (UFTD) will also be moving their 'Stand Against Detention' event to the Criminal Court.

At 17.00, riot control police were seen lining up behind the Criminal Court building. They were seen arriving in several buses at around 16.30. However, their buses were blocked by the crowd and left the court after being stopped for around 5 minutes.

At 18.05, TLHR reported that the court denied bail for the activists on the ground that there is no reason to change existing court order.

The ruling was signed by judge Tawan Rodcharoen.  Judge Tawan delivered the verdict in the Joe Gordon lèse majesté case in 2011.  The Thai-born dual Thai-US citizen was convicted for translating parts of a banned book about the late King Rama IX and posting them on the Internet while in the United States. After repeated bail requests were denied, he pleaded guilty and was given a 5-year sentence, reduced by half because of his guilty plea.

The crowd then moved to the footpath in front of the Criminal Court, where they lit candles and gave speeches to protest against the denial of bail for detained activists and said they will stay until the activists are released.

However, the UFTD announced at around 22.00 that the activities have ended for the day and for people to return tomorrow (30 April).

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