Detained pro-democracy protest leader Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak this afternoon, March 15th, declared a hunger strike, calling for release on bail of all detained activists by the Thai Criminal Court.
Penguin and other pro-democracy prominent activists, including Anon Nampa, Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul, Panupong “Mike Rayong” Jadnok, Jatupat “Pai Dao Din” Boonpattararaksa, and Chai-amorn “Ammy the Bottom Blues” Kaewwiboonpan, had arrived at Bangkok Criminal Court today for evidence examination in their cases being filed for sedition, lese majeste charges, and several minor charges over a pro-democracy overnight demonstration on September last year. Ammy faces additional charges for reportedly setting fire to a portrait of His Royal Majesty the King following a protest.
After the examination, defendant Shinawat “Bright” Chankrachang from the Nonthaburi pro-democracy movement told reporters that Penguin asked the court’s permission to express a public statement to the courtroom. However, the court denied, stating that the defendant had no legal right to address the court and he was reportedly taken away from the room, resulting in a little chaos. Mixed reports on what took place were given by Thai media due to the fact that media had not been allowed to be present in the courtroom, supposedly due to “Covid-19” precautions.
According to Bright, Penguin asked the Court why he and his pro-democracy friends were denied bail several times as no official judgment had yet been made. He also compared his case with recently-released People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) protesters who were all found guilty but had been granted bail.
He then announced to start his hunger strike until he and his friends would be granted bail by the Criminal Court before being removed from the Courtroom.
The Criminal Court has repeatedly denied the protesters bail, citing concerns that they would immediately return to activities they are accused of such as less majeste or sedition, or that they would attempt to flee the country as they face long sentences and harsh penalties if found guilty.
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