Activist’s mother shaves head to protest bail denial

Sureerat Chiwarak, mother of detained student activist Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak, shaved her head yesterday (30 April) to protest against the court’s decision to repeatedly deny bail for her son, whose health is reported to be rapidly declining after being on a hunger strike for the past 46 days.

Sureerat Chiwarak having her head shaved in the Criminal Court parking lot

Sureerat went to the Criminal Court in the afternoon to file another bail request for Parit, who was denied bail for the 9th time yesterday (29 April). Before going to file the bail request, she shaved her head in the Criminal Court parking lot to protest against the court’s decision to repeatedly deny bail for her son. 

“I am just one woman. I am someone’s mother who loves her son very much,” Sureerat said. “My son did nothing wrong. My son just thinks differently. My son is not free to speak. My son is being held in prison without being found guilty. My son has not received justice in fighting his case.

“I would like everyone to remember this and fight for justice. We have to get rid of injustice from our society. Do not let anyone have to face the same loss or pain our family is facing.”

Parit has been detained since 9 February 2021 pending trial on two royal defamation charges relating to the 19 September 2020 protest at Sanam Luang and the 14 November 2020 Mob Fest protest. He is among 10 activists currently being detained pending trial on a Section 112 charge.

To protest the denial of bail for detained activists, Parit has been on a hunger strike for the past 46 days. Earlier this week, it was reported that his condition has worsened. Lawyer Kritsadang Nutcharat said yesterday (30 April) before going to request bail for the 7 activists, that Parit told him during a visit that he has not been able to sleep, his skin is dry, and that he suffers from nausea and fatigue, while blood was found in his stools. Sureerat told reporters today that Parit has had his I.V. taken out due to an inflammation in his blood vessels, and she is now concerned for his life.

“Right now, Penguin is alive because of himself and his own strength. He has no I.V. fluid that would save his life, because his body cannot take it anymore,” Sureerat said.

At around 17.00, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) reported that Parit has been taken to Ramathibodi Hospital for an endoscopy for suspected gastrointestinal bleeding, as well as for parenteral nutrition.

TLHR then reported at around 17.40 that the court has scheduled a bail hearing for Parit, as well as for activist Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, at 10.00 on 6 May.

A group of people gathering in front of the Criminal Court shaved their heads in solidarity with Sureerat to demand that Parit be granted bail

A crowd of supporters gathered at the Criminal Court throughout the afternoon and evening to wait for the court’s decision. iLaw reported that the gates to the court grounds were closed. While those who arrived before the gates were closed waited inside and put up banners saying “right to bail” and “repeal Section 112,” those who gathered outside put up banners saying “free our friends” and “failed state,” as well as tying white ribbons to the fence around the court grounds.

At 19.15, several people, led by student activist Nutchanon Pairoj, also shaved their heads to demand that Parit be granted bail. Activist Jatupat Boonpattararaksa, who was also detained at the Bangkok Remand Prison until he was granted bail on 23 April, also -called in to speak to the crowd by video about taking care of Parit in the prison infirmary.

At 20.00, activist Benja Apan threw pieces of paper printed with names of people who signed the United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration (UFTD)’s open letter demanding the release of detained activists across the fence. She then announced that they would be returning to their occupation protest in front of the Supreme Court and promised to come back to the Criminal Court with more names.

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