Despite declining health, monarchy reform activists refused bail

On 7 July, the Southern Bangkok Criminal Court denied bail to Netiporn Sanesangkhom and Natthanit (surname withheld), monarchy reform activists who have been detained pending trial. After 36 days of hunger strike, both are exhibiting signs of seriously deteriorating health.

Netiporn (left) and Baipor (right) before the hearing (Photo by Suramet Noyubon)

According to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), the presiding judge ruled that the Correctional Hospital is still capable of seeing to the activists’ health needs. A prison officer and nurse testified that they have just “lost some weight”  but remained in good spirits.

Santi Chukitsapphaisal, the Court’s deputy director-general, signed the bail rejection decision.

In a bail request, submitted on 6 July, lawyers raised concerns about the deteriorating health of the activists. Netiporn’s potassium levels have reportedly fallen, a condition that heightens the risk of myocardial infarction.

Speaking in court, Netiporn’s sister asked for the activists to be released on bail until their health improves, after which time the court could decide whether to detain them again.

The Court considered the request for more than 6 hours, summoning prison nurses and witnesses, before announcing its decision on 7 July.

Netiporn and Natthanit, or go by nickname 'Bung' and 'Baipor' have been held in pre-trial detention since 3 May when their bail was revoked by the South Bangkok Criminal Court. The Court asserted that the pair had violated bail conditions by causing public disorder at Victory Monument on 13 March 2022 when they organised a poll on land expropriation. During the incident, a small altercation arose between Thaluwang supporters and members of a royalist group that had gathered nearby.

Nutthanit and Netiporn were previously charged with royal defamation, sedition, and refusing to comply with a police order after they conducted a poll on 8 February 2022 at Siam Paragon shopping mall about royal motorcades.

On 28 April 2022, they were arrested along with activist Supitcha Chailom and charged with royal defamation for conducting another opinion poll on whether it was acceptable for the government to let the King use his powers as he pleases.

In addition to the above charges, Nutthanit was arrested on 22 April 2022 and charged with royal defamation and violation of the Computer Crimes Act for sharing a Facebook post about the monarchy budget.

To date, the activists have been detained for 66 days. To demand their right to bail, they have been on a hunger strike for the past 36 days. As their health is declining, their lawyers are seeking bail so they can receive medical attention in a hospital. 

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