The Campaign to Release Political Prisoner “Sirapop Korn-aroot”
Free Sirapop. Free all political prisoners in Thailand.
Mr. Siripop Korn-aroot, 55, a political writer and poet, became well-known on social media after expressing his opinions against the coup d’État in 2006. On May 22, 2014, when the second coup d’État took place, the military government issued a summons for Korn-aroot to report, but he refused to do so and escaped before being arrested on June 25, 2014. He was accused of disobeying the order of the coup makers and committing offenses of the lèse-majesté law or Article 112 by posting 3 pieces of text on a website. The case was submitted to the court martial. While being confined, he submitted a lawsuit to the Courts of Justice against the action of the coup d’État council which was illegal and considered as rebellion that overthrew an elected government, but the Courts dismissed the case. During over 4 years of detention, he requested for bail for 7 times, but the court martial never approved any of them.
- In a normal situation, the court martial has the power to judge and punish only criminal offenders who are military personnel. However, after the coup d’État in 2014, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) declared a martial law stipulating that any lawsuits related to the NCPO’s orders and the lèse-majesté law would be submitted to the court martial, which is a single court where the accused cannot appeal to the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court. Judges and court officials are military personnel appointed by the king who bestowed the Minister of Defense the power to appoint and dismiss those officials.
Article 112 of Thailand’s criminal code states that “Whoever defames, insults or threatens the King, the Queen, the Heir-apparent or the Regent, shall be punished with imprisonment of three to fifteen years.” Legal academics consider the law overly broad, ambiguous, and entailing unnecessarily severe punishments. This unjust law has become a tool to abuse human rights and freedom of expression. Up to now, a large number of people face charges of the lèse-majesté law. After the coup d’État in 2014-2016, 111 people were prosecuted and detained (BBC, January 27, 2017).
The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) issued a statement expressing concern over the increase in the prosecution of people charged of the lèse-majesté law and its severe sentences. In the past three years, the number of people who were interrogated for allegedly violating the law has doubled. UNHRC urged that Article 112 of Thailand’s criminal code be amended so that it complies with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. (ICCPR) (BBC, Jun 13, 2017)
Amnesty International calls for Thai authorities to end all forms of criminal proceedings against individuals and release those arrested or imprisoned under Article 112 of the criminal code, and to repeal or amend the law since it is against the international human rights law (BBC, June 11, 2017)
As Mr. Korn-aroot was taken to the court martial, the plaintiff identified 10 witness to be questioned and other 3 witnesses for the defendant. During the detention for 4 years and 5 months, the interrogation of only 3 plaintiff witnesses was completed. The trial was also confidential as requested by a military attorney. General court observers could not attend the court hearings of the case, and the publishing of the statement of the indictment, as well as any reports the trial progress was forbidden.
Mr. Korm-aroot, father of 3, worked as a contractor and parted way with his wife. During the detention, two of his children had to leave school so that the other child, a daughter, could continue studying. He lost his career and his family fell apart. In 2014, military personnel searched his house and brought his three children to a military camp. For the whole period of four years and five months as a political prisoner, he was denied the right to bail guaranteed by law. He wished to fight for his right to liberty, freedom of expression, and to prove his innocence because the articles and poems that he wrote are just a use of poetic language to criticize political conditions of his country. Being confined in prison unfairly deprives him of the means to fight. This is an arbitrary detention and unfair prosecution under military dictatorship, which is the violation of his rights under international laws.
The June 24th Democracy Group would like to urge people in Thailand and other countries, human rights organizations, and those who believe in justice to participate in this campaign to protect human rights by taking action as follows:
- Send a letter (A model letter is provided below.) to the government of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, demanding the release of Mr. Sirapop Korn-aroot at Government House of Thailand, Phitsanulok Road, Khwaeng Dusit, Khet Dusit, Bangkok 10300 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org – and please send the copy of your letter to us via email at email@example.com.
- Send a letter or a card to give Mr. Sirapop Korn-aroot moral support at 33, Bangkok Remand Prison, Chatuchak, Bangkok 10900.
Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha
Request for the right to bail to Mr. Sirapop Korn-aroot
Since June 25, 2014, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has detained Mr. Sirapop Korn-aroot, political writer and poet, at the Bangkok Remand Prison and prosecuted him in the court martial on charges of violating the NCPO’s order and the lèse-majesté law, or Article 112 of Thailand’s criminal code. Up to now, he has been imprisoned for 4 years, but the investigation conducted the court martial has not been completed. Mr. Sirapop Korn-aroot has requested bail on many occasions, but the court never approves his request. The court investigation is proceeding very slowly that Mr. Sirapop is, therefore, considered a victim of an arbitrary detention, which is against the human rights for individuals to fight in the trial for justice, and is a violation of freedom of expression.
I am (on behalf of) …………..…………………………………….. demand that the government which rose to power by staging the coup d’État immediately release Mr. Sirapop Korn-aroot by providing him the right to bail without any conditions so that he could fight in the court, and that the government amend the lèse-majesté law, or Article 112, to be in line with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In addition, please inform me the outcome as you proceed with the request.
“Free political prisoners. Bring refugees back home.”