Angry after three leading student activists were denied bail yesterday, a pro-democracy group has called on people to wear black, tie black ribbons and lay wreaths this afternoon at the Criminal Court in Bangkok.
The Ratsadon and The United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration groups announced that they will host a demonstration in front of the courthouse on Ratchadaphisek Road to demand the release of three activists – Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul, Panupong “Mike” Jadnok and Jatupat “Pai” Boonpattararaksa – who were refused bail release after being charged with sedition and insulting the king.
“Our friends are being put in jail! Justice does not exist,” said the United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration group, which has led many of the rallies that began last year. “We invite our brothers and sisters to mourn for justice by wearing black, laying wreaths and tying black bows to grieve over the justice that has long been gone from the country.”
On Monday, Rung, Mike and Pai were charged with lese majeste, as the royal defamation law is called, over demonstrations that took place in September. The three were also charged with committing sedition under Section 116 of the Penal Code.
Traditionally, suspects in such cases have been allowed to post bonds for their release.
Human Rights Watch said the order could see the students jailed for years.
“There is a growing pattern of Thai activists charged with lese majeste being sent to long periods of pretrial detention,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Courts should uphold the right to the presumption of innocence and ensure all fair trial procedures are observed.”
Many of the youth-led movement’s leaders are now behind bars. Also being held without bail in pre-trial detention for a month now are rights lawyer Arnon Nampa, student leader Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak and former lese majeste prisoner Somyot Prueksakasemsuk. The court’s surprise ruling to deny them bail on Feb. 9 sparked a downtown protest rally.
When protests resumed against the military-aligned government resumed last year, they drew massive crowds unseen in years. They soon made unprecedented calls for reforming the palace as well. Smaller crowds returned to the streets following Thailand’s second wave of COVID-19 infections, and police-instigated violence has led to more frequent scenes of violence.
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