Thailand: ‘I will go on hunger strike’

  • Chaos erupted at the Criminal Court in Bangkok as anti-government protest leader Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak threatened to go on a hunger strike unless those charged with lese majeste were released from custody.
  • 15 Mar 21’s hearing concerned two separate but connected events involving the youth-led demonstration on 19-20 Sep 21 at Sanam Luang, where the Ratsadon plaque had been embedded.
  • Nine of the 22 defendants have been detained — seven are charged with lese majeste and had their bail requests repeatedly denied.
  • Around 50-60 people, including staff from embassies and international organisations, were allowed to attend the hearing.
  • Among them was Pathomporn Kaewnoo from the Thai Lawyers for Human rights, who said Mr Parit read a prepared statement in which he criticised the role taken by the courts in the conflict.
  • The judge interrupted him and warned that if he continued, the court would order a meeting behind closed doors with Mr Parit alone. He then ordered the defendants out of the courtroom and suspended the hearing.
  • Before anyone had time to leave, however, Mr Parit stood on a chair and continued to read his statement, urging that “truths” be proven instead of simply imprisoning the accused.
  • He said he would go on a hunger strike and consume only water, sweet drinks and milk until the court came to its senses and returned the right to bail that is usually afforded to defendants in lese majeste and political cases.
  • The Corrections Department detained Mr Piyarat, Mr Jatupat and Mr Panupong at Thon Buri Prison, despite the court ordering that they be kept at Bangkok Remand Prison. The defence says that was unfair since it was inconvenient for lawyers and relatives to visit them.

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