Protesters marching to the Ratchadapisek Criminal Court (Photo by ZEE AI)

Activists march to court to demand right to bail

On Sunday (29 January), activists and protesters marched to the Ratchadaphisek Criminal Court to demand the release of political prisoners. Meanwhile, lawyers attempted to post bail for 12 people still detained pending trial or appeal, but were rejected.

Activist Jatupat Boonpattararaksa leading the march to the Ratchadapisek Criminal Court (Photo by ZEE AI)

On Sunday morning (29 January), activists from the Thalufah group and a number of protesters travelled via the BTS sky train from the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC), where they have been continuously protesting for the past week to demand the release of political prisoners, to the Major Cineplex Ratchayothin shopping mall. From there, they marched to the Ratchadaphisek Criminal Court to meet with the team of lawyers from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), who requested bail for 12 activists and protesters detained pending trial or appeal on charges relating to their participation in pro-democracy protests, including 4 people detained on royal defamation charges.

The march was part of the protests demanding the release of political prisoners and showing support for the demands for judicial reform and for political parties to back the repeal of the royal defamation and sedition laws made by activists Tantawan Tuatunalon and Orawan Phuphong, who revoked their own bail in protest against the judicial system and are now undergoing a dry hunger strike in detention.

However, lawyers did not request bail for Tantawan and Orawan, along with activists Sopon Surariddhidhamrong and Nutthanit Duangmusit, as they asked not to be bailed until other detained protesters have been released.

After arriving at the Criminal Court, activist Jatupat Boonpattararaksa read out a statement calling for the release of every political prisoner detained pending trial or appeal, and for bail conditions such as wearing an electronic monitoring bracelet or being prohibited from leaving one's residence, which can be disproportionate in limiting daily activities, to be revoked.

Protesters gathered in front of the Criminal Court for a while, before returning to the courtyard in front of the BACC for their daily Stand Against Detention protest.

At 15.00, TLHR reported that the Criminal Court had rejected the bail request for 9 activists and protesters detained pending trial. Meanwhile, bail requests for three people detained pending appeal on royal defamation charges were forwarded to the Appeal Court for consideration.

Man who died during protest a ‘lover of democracy’

Pairot Chotsiphanphon

While protesters were gathering in front of the Criminal Court, it was reported that an elderly man collapsed while sitting at the bus stop in front of the court and was taken to hospital. It was later reported that the man, Pairot Chotsiphanphon, 67, had died from a heart attack.

Jatupat posted a message on Facebook that Pairot was a “lover of democracy” and a regular protest-goer who has been continuously participating in pro-democracy protests.

“I offer my condolences and express my respect for Uncle Pairot, with admiration for an oppressed person who fought until his last moment,” Jatupat wrote.

Pui and Malee

Pairot’s friend Malee told Prachatai that they met during the Red Shirt protests and became friends because they regularly attended the protests. She said that Pairot came from Phichit Province, where his two sisters live, and that he lived alone in Bangkok where he had a business.

Malee and Pui, another protester, said they meet Pairot for a meal every Friday, as they live in the same neighbourhood, and that it was quality time for them to meet each other and talk politics.

Malee said they decided last Friday (27 January) to join the Stand Against Detention protest at the BACC because they were concerned for the young activists on hunger strike in prison. “He said he was worried about Tawan,” Malee said.

Both Malee and Pui said they did not know that Pairot had a heart condition, and that he only ever complained to them about his back pain. They also said that the activists who organized the protest should not feel guilty because Pairot’s death was due to a health condition, and that they are still supporting the group as there is still a long way to go.

Meanwhile, Tueng, another protester and a friend of Pairot, said that Pairot often brought food to give out to protesters. Sometimes he would bring a stove and pan and make them fried eggs.

Tueng also said that he did not previously know Pairot had a heart condition before Sunday. He said that Pairot took the MRT underground train to Lat Phrao station and walked to the Criminal Court. They were sitting at the bus stop together when Pairot told him that his chronic back pain is gone but that he found out that he had a heart condition.

At the BACC, Thalufah activists held a candlelit vigil for Pairot after their daily Stand Against Detention protest. Jatupat then announced that on the 29 January of each year, the activists will meet in front of the Criminal Court for a memorial event for Pairot.


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