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Student activist Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, who has been detained pending trial on a royal defamation charge, has been granted bail, while Siraphop Phumphuengphut, another student activist, has been denied bail and detained pending trial.

Panusaya after she was released from the Central Women Correctional Institution (Photo by Thikamporn Tamtiang)

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) reported at 17.00 today (6 May) that the court granted Panusaya bail on a security of 200,000 baht, with the conditions that she must not participate in activities which are damaging to the monarchy and must not leave the country. A press release from the Criminal Court also said that she must not participate in activities that disrupt society, and must come to every court appointment.

Activists Jatupat Boonpattaraksa and Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, who were granted bail on 23 April, were also released on condition that they do not participate in activities that are damaging to the monarchy and that they do not leave the country.

Panusaya has been detained pending trial since 8 March 2021 on a royal defamation charge under Section 112 of the Thai Criminal Code relating to the 19 September 2020 protest at Sanam Luang. She has also been on a hunger strike for the past 38 days to protest against the denial of bail for detained activists.

Supporters put up a banner saying "right to bail" in front of the Criminal Court

A crowd gathered at the Criminal Court as Panusaya’s bail hearing took place. The Criminal Court gates were closed at 9.00. Members of the public were not allowed inside the court grounds, while journalists and those with court appointments had to enter through the gate connecting the Civil Court and the Criminal Court and go through a Covid-19 screening checkpoint.

iLaw also reported that riot control police and two water cannon trucks were stationed inside the court grounds.

A bail hearing was also previously scheduled for student activist Parit Chiwarak and for activist and lead singer of pop band the Bottom Blues Chaiamorn “Ammy” Kaewwiboonpan, but their hearings were postponed. According to TLHR, the Department of Corrections informed the court that Parit and Chaiamorn had not completed their 14-day quarantine period and their hearings had to be postponed.

Parit’s mother Sureerat Chiwarak and lawyer Kritsadang Nutcharat tried to request that the court hold a bail hearing today for Parit. Sureerat brought documents from the Medical Correctional Institution to confirm that Parit has completed his quarantine period. Nevertheless, his bail hearing did not take place.

Siraphop being held in a prisoner bus heading for the Bangkok Remand Prison. (Photo by Chana La)

Meanwhile, TLHR reported that Siraphop, a student activist from Srinakharinwirot University, was denied bail and detained pending trial on a section 112 charge after the public prosecutor filed a case against him and activist Chukiat Sangwong today (6 May).

The charge is related to a speech given at the 18 November 2020 protest at police headquarters. The court ruled to deny bail on the ground that the Section 112 charge has a severe sentence and that he is likely to repeat the offense if he is released.

Maria Chin Abdullah, Malaysian MP and member of the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR), said that, while the APHR welcomes the court's decision to grant bail to Panusaya, the conditions attached to her release are "unacceptable and she should never have been imprisoned in the first place."

She also called on the court to release Parit, Chaiamorn, and Siraphop, as well as others facing charges for their participation in pro-democracy protests. 

"The only 'crime' they’ve committed is speaking out on the political situation," she said. "Thai authorities should also take meaningful steps to ensure that no one faces reprisals for peacefully voicing one’s opinion, and recognize that having constructive dialogue with its people will only best serve the interest of those in power."

At least 22 people are currently being detained pending trial in charges relating to political expression, 9 of whom are facing charges under Section 112. In addition to Siraphop, Parit Chiwarak, Anon Nampa, Chaiamorn Kaewwiboonpan, Parinya “Fort” Cheewinkulpatom, Panupong Jadnok, Phromsorn Weerathamjaree, Chukiat Sangwong, and Wanwalee Thammasattaya are currently in detention on Section 112 charges.

Among this group, Parit and Anon have been in detention the longest, since 9 February 2021. Parit has been on a hunger strike for the past 52 days to protest against the denial of bail for detained activists. His health has rapidly declined as a result, and he was admitted to Ramathibodi Hospital on 30 April.

On 3 May, Wanwalee, who is currently detained at the Thonburi Women Correctional Institution, also started a hunger strike in solidarity with Parit.

It has also been reported that Anon has tested positive for Covid-19 and has been sent to the Medical Correctional Institution for treatment. TLHR reported that he has had a fever and nausea for the past 3 days.

According to TLHR, at least 90 people are facing charges under Section 112. Several face multiple counts, such as Parit who is facing 20 counts, Anon 12 counts, Panusaya 9 counts, and Panupong 8 counts.

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