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Prominent Thai figures, including a journalist, academic and artist, have issued declarations, opposing the detention of activists Tantawan Tuatulanon and Nutanon Chaimahabut and calling on the courts to grant them provisional release.

Thai social critic Sulak Sivaraksa, senior journalist Atukkit Sawangsuk, historian Charnvit Kasetsiri, and former national artist Suchart Sawadsri filed the declarations with the Criminal Court on Friday. The same day, the police inquiry officers requested another period of detention for the two activists.

“I strongly believe that, according to the principles of the philosophy of law, everyone must be treated equally and all individuals must have rights, freedom and equality,” Sulak stated in his declaration. He noted that lawful detention must strictly ensure the freedom of individuals and must not be interpreted so as to limit rights and freedoms, saying that the two activists are suspects who have not yet been indicted. There is no reason, based on either the principles of law or humanitarian principles, to detain them. “I request the court to set these children free so that they have the right to contest by ideas and the right to fully contest this case. If they have offended, punish them. If they are right, then dismiss the case,” he said.

Atukkit also asserted that provisional release is the right of defendants in criminal cases. No person can be detained for more than the appropriate time prescribed by law.

Charnvit stated that he was disappointed to learn that the court approved the detention request, saying that the two activists are still suspects, so they must be considered innocent. “I request the court not to detain the two young people as requested by the police and to grant them provisional release throughout the proceedings until the final judgement is reached,” noted Charnvit.

Charnvit(wearing a suit on the left) and Suchart(wearing blue outfit)

(Photo by Ginger cat)

Meanwhile, Suchart said he grew up under authoritarian regimes and his title as a national artist was revoked due to a disagreement with the government, leaving him with no chance to defend himself. The former national artist noted that the activists should have the chance to be presumed innocent.

This is the third detention request on the grounds that the police need to interview more eyewitnesses, although the inquiry officer from Din Daeng Police Station said he has not identified who are the witnesses are and agreed that the two activists cannot tamper with any evidence if they released. The court subsequently approved the detention request in the evening.

Tantawan and Nutanon were arrested on 13 February on charges of sedition, violation of the Computer-Related Crime Act, and causing a public annoyance. The police accused them of honking at and trying to cut into the royal motorcade of Princess Sirindhorn, the King’s younger sister.

Tantawan and Nutanon have been on a dry hunger strike since they were denied bail on 14 February to protest the detention of political prisoners. Tantawan was later transferred to Thammasat University Hospital, while Nutanon is hospitalised at the Department of Corrections Hospital.

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