Flashmob at BACC demand right to bail for detained activists

A flashmob took place in front of the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC) on Saturday (20 November) to demand the right to bail for activists detained pending trial on charges related to participation in pro-democracy protests.

Participants in the flashmob wore crop tops and stood on the courtyard in front of BACC for 30 minutes to call for the release of detained activists, including student activist Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, who is currently detained pending trial on a royal defamation charge relating to a protest on 20 December 2020, in which activists wore crop tops at Siam Paragon shopping mall to campaign for the repeal of the royal defamation law.

The performers’ network RasaDrums also performed at the event, while participants sang along. A representative of the group then read out a statement saying that criticizing the monarchy is a right, as it is an exercise of freedom of expression, which is a fundamental human right, and that every citizen has the right to bail and to freedom of expression.

Another statement was also posted on the event page on Facebook. Titled “the crop top I wear is not a threat to national security,” the statement said that the royal defamation law is being used to restrict people’s freedom, from their freedom of expression to freedom of dress, and that wearing a crop top became a threat to national security only because the law is part of the section in the Criminal Code on national security.

The statement also said that the charge is severe and problematic, as those who are accused of royal defamation are often held in pre-trial detention and denied bail, and unlike normal defamation law, speaking the truth that is in the public’s interest does not exempt one from prosecution, violating the right to a fair trial and the presumption of innocence.

According to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), at least 25 people are being detained pending trial on charges relating to political expression, 6 of whom on a royal defamation charge: Parit Chiwarak, Jatupat Boonpattararaksa, Anon Nampa, Panupong Jadnok, Benja Apan, and Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul.

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