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Updated: 28 min 54 sec ago

Pro-democracy activists released on bail

Sun, 08/09/2020 - 18:34
Submitted on Sun, 9 Aug 2020 - 06:34 PMPrachatai

Anon Nampa and Panupong Jadnok, two pro-democracy activists who were arrested on Friday (7 August), have been released on bail on the condition that they do not repeat the actions of which they were accused.

Anon Nampa after he was released.

The Bangkok Criminal Court rejected the initial temporary detention request filed by police on Friday evening on the grounds that it was filed outside official working hours. The investigating officers were ordered to bring the pair back to court again within 48 hours with another temporary detention request.

Despite their lawyers’ objection that, as the Court has rejected the temporary detention request, the police can no longer hold them in custody, the police forcibly dragged Anon and Panupong into a police van and took them to Huai Khwang Police Station, as the crowd which had gathered at the Criminal Court to see the outcome of the temporary detention request shouted “stop abducting citizens!”

A crowd also gathered at Huai Khwang Police Station after they were taken there, joined by participants from the rally in front of the Bangkhen Police Station, where Anon was previously held. People took turns giving speeches and the crowd shouted “Stop harassing citizens! Free Anon! Free Mike!" "Mike" being Panupong's nickname. 

Police officer blocking the steps in front of the Criminal Court

Anon and Panupong were held overnight at Huai Khwang Police Station and taken to the Criminal Court again at 8.00 on Saturday (8 August) for the investigating officers to file another temporary detention request.

Student Union of Thailand (SUT) members Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak and Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul also came to the Criminal Court a few minutes after Anon and Panupong arrived to hear the Court’s ruling on the temporary detention request as a crowd of supporters gathered. Meanwhile, the Free People Group and Free Youth Movement announced a flash mob at the Pathumwan Skywalk at 16.00 on Saturday (8 August) as the SUT posted on their social media pages calls for an urgent gathering in front of the Court.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) noted that metal fences blocked the entrance to the Court with around 50 uniformed and plainclothes police officers in the area.  

As the Court examined the temporary detention request, Anon wrote a note to his supporters expressing concerns that he and Panupong would be detained at the Nakhon Chai Sri (Thung Song Hong) temporary prison, where two lèse majesté suspects, Suriyan “Mor Yong” Sucharitpolwong and Pol Maj Prakrom Warunprapa, were detained and mysteriously died while in detention. The Chief Justice of the Criminal Court held a press conference later in the day saying that the pair would be detained at the Bangkok Remand Prison if the Court approved the temporary detention request and if they do not seek or are not granted bail.

Anon wrote another letter concerning the protest at Pathumwan Skywalk, urging protestors to keep fighting towards the three demands made by the Free Youth Movement at the mass protest on 18 July rather than just demanding for his and Panupong’s release and to not let their arrest distract the movement from its goal.

After Anon expressed his concerns about being detained at the Nakhon Chai Sri temporary prison, the crowd in front of the court started voicing their concern as well and tried to push through the line of police blocking the entrance to the Court, insisting that Court proceedings must be open to the public. Following negotiations with court officials, two representatives were finally allowed to enter the courtroom to listen to the examination of the temporary detention request.

The crowd in front of the Criminal Court flashing the three-finger 'Hunger Games' salute after the ruling on Anon and Panupong's temporary detention request. 

After five hours of examination, the Court finally ruled at 15.35 to temporarily detain Anon and Panupong for 12 days. Following the ruling, the crowd in front of the Criminal Court flashed the three-finger Hunger Games salute, now a well-known symbol of resistance seen at every anti-government protest in Thailand, and sang Jin Gammachon's song "เพื่อมวลชน" ("For the People")

At 17.00, Anon and Panupong were granted bail and temporarily released. The Court required 100,000 baht as security, and imposed a ban on them engaging in acts of resembling what they were accused of. The Court ruled that they do not have to pay the security unless they violate the restriction.

“We will speak within the bounds of the constitution. If ever we speak outside of the bounds of the constitution, we are happy to go into prison. The demonstration on 16 August will definitely be a mass protest, and we are just one part of it. We stand by the same three demands and 2 restrictions. We mean well to the country and respect those who think differently. We would like you to listen to us. We thank the officers who took good care of us, but as for those who do bad things, we are going to have to deal with them,” Anon said.

Anon referred to the three demands made by Free Youth Movement on 18 July, now repeated at every anti-government protest springing up across the country: stop harassing citizens, draft a new constitution, and dissolve parliament, as well as 2 restrictions, which are that there is to be no military coup or a national unity government.

Anon and Panupong meet their supporters after their release.

Anon and Panupong were accused of sedition under Section 116 of the Criminal Code; of organizing an assembly of ten or more people and threatening to cause violence or a breach of peace under Section 215 of the Criminal Code; violating the Emergency Decree, which bans large gatherings; obstructing a public way without permission under Section 385 of the Criminal Code; violating Section 19 of the Maintenance of the Cleanliness and Orderliness of the Country Act; and of using loudspeaker without permission under the Controlling Public Advertisement by Sound Amplifier Act.

Their arrest followed a series of demonstrations demanding reform and a new constitution, as well as the launch of the Free People Group on Friday morning (7 August), when another protest on 16 August was announced. Anon also gave a speech at a rally on 3 August calling for monarchy reform and open criticism of the crown. He is also speaking at a rally today (9 August) at Tha Pae Gate, Chiang Mai.

Their arrest warrants named Anon the seventh suspect and Panupong the fifth suspect, suggesting a larger police operation to arrest pro-democracy activists may be under way. Human rights lawyer Yaowalak Anuphan also told Khaosod English that at least 31 people are now marked for arrest.

NewsAnon NampaPanupong Jadnokjudicial harassmentcriminal courtEmergency Decreeactivistanti-governmentstudent movementYouth movementprotestStudent protest 2020
Categories: Politics