Activists demand better care for prisoners after reports of harassment

Following reports that several protesters in prison have been harassed by other inmates and that others have not received proper medical care, a group of activists staged a protest in front of the Bangkok Remand Prison to demand that the Department of Corrections improve how prisoners are treated.

Activists filed a letter detailing their demands to representatives of the Department of Corrections. (Photo by Ginger Cat)

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) reported that some protesters told visiting lawyers that they were being bullied by other inmates, and that some also said they were sick but did not receive proper medical treatment beyond being given paracetamol.

22-year-old Thiranai, who is imprisoned for possession of a small explosive during a protest on 29 August 2021, told TLHR that another inmate forced Thiranai to do his work for him. The inmate also threatened to kick Thiranai for chatting and laughing with other inmates and prison officials. Thiranai said that the officials did nothing, noting that, at the beginning of his sentence, he was forced to give away his money, but he said nothing because “it happened to everyone.”

Other activists who visited Thiranai also reported that he told them he was threatened by other inmates and had a book thrown at him.

22-year-old Theerapat, who is detained pending trial after being indicted for allegedly throwing an explosive at a police car during a Din Daeng intersection protest on 31 October 2021, told TLHR that other inmates have forced him to buy things for them, but he said he did not want to raise the issue with prison officials because he didn’t want to get in trouble with long-term inmates. He also said that he has not been receiving everything his visitors send him, including food ordered for him.

Other detained protesters have fallen ill in detention. However, they said the prison has not provided them with adequate medical care beyond being given paracetamol after developing a fever. Meanwhile, the crowded living conditions in prison increased the risk of spreading diseases.

Tantawan Tuatulanon tying roses to the prison gate. (Photo by Ginger Cat)

On Monday (23 October), a group of activists staged a protest in front of the Bangkok Remand Prison, where the majority of activists and protesters are being held, to demand that the Department of Corrections ensure better welfare for all inmates.

They submitted a letter demanding that the Department of Corrections investigate cases of harassment among inmates and resolve the issues of extortion and bullying. They also demanded that the Department of Corrections ensure that sick inmates can equally access adequate and prompt medical care.

Activist Tantawan Tuatulanon said that the activists are making their demands for the welfare of all inmates, not only those detained for participating in pro-democracy protests, because all inmates should be treated humanely. She also said that they will monitor how the Department of Corrections responds to their demands, and will take further action if they learn that there are still problems.

“One thing that cannot be denied is that you are still a person,” Tantawan said, “so other people, including prison officials, should treat you like you are a human being. … A prison is not a place to lock up animals. It’s a place for locking up actual people, so the treatment of inmates should be the same as you treat another human being.”

Ahead of the protest, the Bangkok Remand Prison cancelled all visits scheduled for the day, claiming safety reasons. The activists responded saying that they were making their demands for the safety of all inmates, and that the prison has violated the rights of the inmates and their families by cancelling visits.

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