Thailand’s Criminal Court has denied bail for the ninth time against seven pro-democracy activists who were facing charges of Section 112 on Royal defamation, including Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak whose health conditions are allegedly declining according to supporters and his mother as he has been on a hunger strike for 45 days.
Lawyers from the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) arrived at the Criminal Court yesterday, April 29th, to submit a bail request for Parit Chiwarak, Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, Anon Nampa, Chukiat Sangwong, and Parinya Cheewinkulpatom, who are currently detained and pending trial on lese mesjeste charges.
According to the lawyers, the request was made over the concern of the spread of Covid-19 in prison as well as no probable reasons to detain them as they should have been released to fight for the charges.
In addition to the request, the lawyers have requested that the court allow Parit to be taken to Rama 9 Hospital for 30 days as his condition was worsening and must be medically assisted.
A group of pro-democracy demonstrators was gathering in front of the court to witness the court’s verdict as well as to submit a petition of bail release for the detained activists to a court representative. However, no court representative showed up to accept the petition despite requests from protesters. Bangkok crowd control police were also deployed at the scene but there were no intense clashes between both parties throughout the gathering and several protesters, as well as Penguin’s mothers, begged people not to cause unrest or conflict and stay calm while following Covid-19 regulations.
As of 6:30 PM, the Criminal Court dismissed all requests made by the lawyers once again, reasoning that there were no probable reasons to change previous orders. Their statements, similar to the many other denials, were concerns that the prominent protesters would immediately resume their activities and protests or attempt to flee the country.
Penguin’s mother, Sureerat Chiwarak, told reporters after the verdict that she only wanted to take care of her son but the court did not allow her to do so. “I will fight to the very end and I will not lose my son,” she said.
Meanwhile, the group of supporters decided to leave the Court as they were reportedly surrounded by crowd control police at around 6:50 PM. Several groups of pro-democracy activists, including the United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration, Wevo guard, Free Arts, etc, also announced a gathering at the US embassy today to submit a letter, requesting the Embassy representatives to visit all of the detained activists and ensuring that all of them were well taken care of.
Meanwhile, Bangkok prison officials claimed that the reports of Penguin’s health declining were exaggerated and that he was getting medical care and was accepting intravenous tubes. Due to what officials say are Covid-19 regulations, visitors are not currently allowed into the prisons which is why protesters are asking for embassy assistance.
The move to ask the US embassy for assistance, however, has drawn increased scrutiny from opposition groups to the protesters, primarily pro-institution-related groups who claim the US embassy is supporting the protesters behind the scenes. The US embassy has repeatedly denied this claim and states they are neutral, although they do support democracy.
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