Hunger striking activists denied bail

The Criminal Court has once again denied bail for detained activists Tantawan Tuatulanon and Nutanon Chaimahabut, who are now on the 14th day of a dry hunger strike.

Sommai Tuatulanon (center), Tantawan's father, speaking to the media before filing a bail request for Tantawan and Nutanon.
(Photo by Ginger Cat)

Sommai Tuatulanon, Tantawan’s father, filed a bail request for Tantawan and Nutanon on Saturday (24 February). He was asked to return on Sunday (25 February) when their original detention order would expire, with a medical certificate.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) said the Court ruled to deny them bail on the grounds that it has no reason to change its existing order because the two activists are already receiving medical attention, and ordered them detained for 12 more days.

Tantawan and Nutanon were arrested on 13 February on several charges, including sedition, for allegedly honking at and blocking a royal motorcade and for posting dash cam footage of the incident. They were subsequently denied bail.

In a Facebook post on 11 February, Tantawan said that she did not block or cut off the motorcade. She also said she did not know that there was going to be a motorcade. She was on the way back from a funeral and admitted that she was speeding because she was in a hurry.

The dashcam footage shows the vehicle stuck in traffic, and that the horn was sounded when it moves to the front of the line and the lane was blocked by a police vehicle. The footage also shows the vehicle stuck behind another police vehicle while at the exit from the expressway, and a police officer was seen approaching the vehicle before Tantawan was heard arguing.

Activists and protesters gathered in front of the Criminal Court on Sunday (25 February) after Tantawan and Nutanon were denied bail.
(Photo by Ginger Cat)

Immediately after being denied bail, Tantawan and Nutanon went on a dry hunger strike to call for a reform of the justice system, an end to the detention of dissidents, and for Thailand to be rejected when it runs for a seat in the UN Human Rights Council.

Tantawan was transferred to the Thammasat University Hospital last Thursday (22 February). The referral document from the Corrections Hospital states that she has been refusing food and water since 14 February, and that the Corrections Hospital had her transferred because her condition is “beyond their ability” to care for. Nutanon, meanwhile, remains at the Correction Hospital. Both are refusing medical intervention.

Activist Noppasin Treelayapeewat said after the court ruling was issued that the Court had received a petition from Sonthiya Sawasdee, a royalist activist and former Phalang Pracharath MP candidate, objecting to the two activists’ release. He also noted that the Court has yet to take into consideration Sommai’s promise that he would prohibit his daughter from participating in political activism if she is granted bail.

Sommai Tuatulanon (left) and Krisadang Nutcharus (right) at the Criminal Court yesterday (26 February)
(Photo by Ginger Cat)

Yesterday (26 February), Sommai and lawyer Krisadang Nutcharus filed a petition with the Chief Justice of the Criminal Court stating that, while Sommai does not wish to file for appeal, he asks that the Court take responsibility for the two activists. The petition notes that they have not been indicted on the charges against them and should be treated as innocent, and says that the court should consider who will be held responsible if they die as a result of being detained.

Sommai said that all he is trying to do is get Tantawan and Nutanon released so they can receive medical attention. He noted that the charges against them are still being investigated and asked how the court could say that they are facing a charge with a high penalty when they have not been indicted. He insisted that they are not a flight risk and that they could not tamper with evidence, and said that the authorities must be held responsible if anything happens to them.

The protest at the Victory Monument on Saturday (24 February). The banner above the protesters says "Free our friends. Repeal Section 112 [Royal defamation] and Section 116 [sedition]."
(Photo by Ginger Cat)

Krisadang said that Tantawan and Nutanon’s condition has worsened, and that the Corrections Hospital will be transferring Nutanon to another hospital but no hospital has accepted the referral. He said that Tantawan’s father wanted to inform the Court of why the two activists must be released, noting that both himself and Sommai believe that any appeal or new bail request they file will be rejected.

Meanwhile, other activists and protesters have been staging a protest at the Victory Monument in Bangkok for the past three days against the denial of bail for Tantawan and Nutanon and demanding the release of other political prisoners.

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