The South Bangkok Criminal Court on Tuesday (3 May) ordered bail for monarchy reform activists Baipor and Netiporn to be revoked, saying that they violated their bail conditions by causing public disorder.
Netiporn (left) and Baipor (right) before the hearing (Photo by Suramet Noyubon)
Baipor and Netiporn are members of the monarchy reform group Thaluwang and were charged with royal defamation for conducting a public poll on whether people think royal motorcades cause problems on 8 February 2022 at Siam Paragon shopping mall.
Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) reported that the Court revoked their bail because they participated in another poll on land expropriation on 13 March 2022 at the Victory Monument, which the Court said caused public disorder. The Court claimed that because the group posted on the Thaluwang Facebook page an invitation to people to join the “protest,” a large number of people would join the event and cause public disorder, and that a clash took place between Thaluwang supporters and members of a royalist group gathering nearby.
In the 13 March 2022 event, the activists walked on the skywalk around the Victory Monument and conducted a poll asking “Would you give up your house to the royal family?” Meanwhile, the ultra-royalist group People’s Centre to Protect the Monarchy gathered next to the monument to sing the national anthem and King’s anthem.
A small group of Thaluwang supporters argued with the royalist protesters gathered there, but no major altercation took place as activist Sam Samat and other Thaluwang supporters defused the situation.
Baipor said before going to the hearing that Thaluwang’s polls are open for everyone to participate, and that conducting polls is about raising questions about social issues, not just those relating to the monarchy. She said that it is a good thing that other groups are also conducting public polls, and that, if she is detained, she would like more people to raise questions about various issues in the country.
The order revoking their bail was signed by Judges Santi Chukitsappaisan and Puttawat Rintarasri.
Baipor and Netiporn are currently detained at the Women’s Central Correctional Institution. They are among 11 people currently detained on charges relating to political expression. Of this number, 5 are detained on royal defamation charges while their cases are still at the inquiry level: Baipor, Netiporn, Tantawan Tuatulanon, Sopon Surariddhidhamrong, and Weha Saenchonchanasuek.
Activist shaves head to demand right to bail
Benjamaporn shaving her head in front of the Khlong Prem prison entrance
After Baipor and Netiporn were taken to the Women’s Central Correctional Institution, 17-year-old activist Benjamaporn or “Ploy”, also a Thaluwang member, shaved her head to protest the activists’ bail revocation and demand the right to bail for detained activist.
Benjamaporn wore a school uniform and taped a piece of paper to her chest saying “This young person behaved in violation of the law by raising questions about the monarchy, causing dishonour to, defaming, and threatening one of the country’s main institutions. Please condemn this young person.”
The sign is a reference to Benjamaporn’s first demonstration, in which she protested outdated haircut and uniform regulations in Thai schools by sitting under a staircase at the Siam BTS station in a school uniform with a sign saying “This student violated school rules by leaving her hair longer than her ears and having fringes, destroying Thai students’ characteristics. Please punish this student,” and inviting people to cut her hair.
After shaving her head, Benjamaporn flashed the three-finger ‘Hunger Games’ salute. She picked up a piece of her hair and said that the braids she was wearing before the demonstration were done for her by Netiporn before they went to court that morning.
Benjamaporn said that the loss of her hair cannot be compared to the loss of lives from the economic recession, the lives of young people lost to the education system, the juvenile detention centres, or the life of 15-year-old Warit Somnoi, who was shot during a protest at the Din Daeng Intersection and died after several months in a coma.
She asked people to remember those who are unjustly imprisoned and those who died and not let them be forgotten by political history. She also asked that adults listen to young people and stand with them to call for justice, freedom, and equality.
“Young people have tried their best to speak out, but there are many adults who are still choosing not to listen to their voice. Actually, it is an adult’s responsibility to listen to the voice of young people and come out to stand alongside them, not just discard youth, not just discard children so that they have to run away from home and be without a place to live, without even a dream and having to struggle by themselves. In the end, the destination of people who come out to fight and ask questions is prison and death. Such things happen, and such things should not happen,” she said.
Benjamaporn said she is tired and feels discouraged, but she is not giving up. She asked people to continue following Thaluwang’s activities and support young people.