World-renowned Academics has written a petition letter to the Thai court asking for the bail release of Miss Pakbung and Miss Baipor.
Tyrell Haberkorn and Thongchai Winichakul -2 prominent Academics on the History of Law and Justice has released an open letter to Mr. Kongjak Poohprom and Manas Pakpoowadol, the Director General and the Deputy Director of the Bangkok Southern Criminal court respectively, for requesting the rights to bail for democratic activists nicknamed “Baipor” and “Pakbung”. The 2 activists were charged with Article 112 of the Thai criminal code or more popularly known as the Thai lese majeste law, and are currently being detained without bail before trial at the Bangkok Central Women’s Jail. The two activists were detained since May 3rd, 2022 and went on a hunger strike since June 2nd to protest the justice system that denied them bail before any trials or sentencing.
The Lawyers from TLHR (Thailand Lawyers for Human Rights) has requested the court for bails for the 2 activists for a total of 5 times and were denied each time by the Southern Criminal Court without giving any adequate reason for the denial.
“Request the court to uphold the principles of human rights and the rights to freedom of expression including international agreements that Thailand has taken part in with accordance to including ICCPR (International Covenant on Civil and Political rights) & ICESR (International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights).
If the court do not uphold these principles, in the short-term, the lives of people such as Baipor and Pakbung or any one who are brave enough to fully express their democratic rights and freedom of expression will be severely abused. And in the long run, the development and promotion of democracy in Thailand will also be jeopardize.”- concluded the open letter.
When the letter has been translated to English, it will be sent and spread to human rights and Justice groups and institutions all around the world. The translated letter will also be sent to Leaders of APEC nations that will gathered and meet together in November 2022 this year in Bangkok.
The Honorable Judge Mr Kongchak Photiphrom
President of the Bangkok Southern Criminal Court
The Honorable Judge Mr Manas Phakdiphuwadol
Vice President of the Bangkok Southern Criminal Court
Dear Honorable Judges,
We are writing with grave concern about the repeated denials of bail to Bai Por and Bung Netiporn, two young women currently detained pending trial in the Central Women’s Prison in Bangkok. They have been detained since 3 May 2022 and on hunger strike in protest of their denial of bail since 2 June 2022. Their arrests, detention, and denial of bail are part of a broader suppression of freedom of expression in Thailand. As the condition of their health continues to decline, we call on you to take a stand in support of justice and human rights, protected by both the 2017 Constitution and Thailand’s international human rights obligations, and immediately grant them bail.
The very arrest and prosecution of Bung and Bai Por indicates an alarming trend of suppression of freedom of expression. Thai Lawyers for Human Rights reports that at least 202 individuals have been accused of violation of Article 112 between 24 November 2020 and 24 June 2022.
On 8 February 2022, Bung, Bai Por, and four other activists carried out a poll at Siam Paragon shopping mall in central Bangkok. They had a poster and stickers for respondents to indicate their opinion on the question: “Do you think that royal motorcades cause hardship and annoyance or not?” (“คุณคิดว่า ขบวนเสด็จสร้างความเดือดร้อนรำคาญหรือไม่”). All six activists and two independent journalists who live-streamed the poll were arrested and accused of violation of four articles in the Criminal Code: disobeying the order or an official (Article 368), insulting an official (Article 136), sedition (Article 116), and lèse majesté (Article 112). Their poll was peaceful expression protected by Section 34 of the 2017 Constitution and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which we respectfully remind the court that Thailand is obligated to uphold as a state party.
Bung Netiporn, age 26, is an English-language tutor and the primary caregiver for her chronically-ill mother. Bai Por, age 20, is a first-year student in the Puey Ungpakorn School of Development Studies at Thammasat University. Her ongoing detention has already caused her to miss required activities related to her study, a right protected by Article 13 of the International Covenent on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), which we respectfully remind the court that Thailand is obligated to uphold as a state party.
In their latest petition for bail, submitted on 23 June 2022, their lawyers requested bail on legal and humanitarian grounds. Without being granted bail, the two cannot prepare their defenses. As their hunger strikes lengthen, the health of both Bai Por and Bung is deteriorating. Bail was denied by the Bangkok Southern Criminal Court on 24 June 2022, and this denial was held up by the Appeal Court on 27 June 2022. Bail was denied even though the police investigating officials did not oppose the request for bail.
Both Bung and Bai Por are weak and suffering from abdominal pain as a result of their hunger strike. To date, Bung’s weight has decreased by 15 kilos and Bai Por’s weight has decreased by 5 kilos. Bung, in particular, is vomiting and fainting regularly. She was sent to the Department of Corrections Hospital on the evening of 28 June 2022 due to her grave condition. On 29 June 2022, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights reported that she is being given intravenous fluids, vitamins, and medication due to complications from being on hunger strike.
We respectfully remind the court that within the Thai judicial system, those accused are innocent until proven guilty. The repeated denials of bail of Bai Por, Bung, and others accused of violation of Article 112 — while those accused in other cases, including violent crime, are released on bail — suggests that there is a double standard in which those accused of lèse majesté are deemed to be less worthy of rights than others. We further respectfully remind the court that Article 9(3) of the ICCPR stipulates that release on bail prior to trial shall be the usual practice.
Finally, we call on the court to take a stand in support of freedom of expression and the full exercise of human rights, including upholding the ICCPR and ICESCR. Without your action, in the short term, the lives of Bung, Bai Por and others persecuted for exercising their rights will be damaged. In the long term, the development of democracy in Thailand will be damaged.
With great respect and sincere thanks,
Professor of Southeast Asian Studies
Department of Asian Langs and Cultures
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Department of History
University of Wisconsin-Madison