Updated: Political prisoners

Update: This post is also available in French.

For those who haven’t seen it, Red Shirts blog includes a post regarding the official red shirts calling on the government to make an “immediate transfer of 10 Red Shirt and lèse majesté prisoners to Laksi prison which is reserved for political offenders. The list includes noted 112 prisoners Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, Thantawut Thaweevarodomkul, and Daranee Chanchengsillapakul, who are currently imprisoned alongside violent criminals.”

This call is made as the amnesty “discussion” drags on and as requests for royal pardons seem to be ignored.

While this call is appropriate, it is a measure of how odd Thailand’s politics has become when UDD leader Thida Tawornsate Tojirakarn,  has to express the request in these terms:

The manner in which Thailand is treating its political prisoners is contrary to basic democratic principals. Even the Sarit [Thanarat] dictatorship recognized a distinction between political offenders and other prisoners. Now that we are more democratic we can’t even meet such low standards.

In fact, it goes against democratic principles to have any political prisoners at all. Realistically, and sadly, PPT notes that some democracies have held political prisoners and some still do.

Thida argues that “while political prisoners are deprived of their freedom, they still have the right to information, education, health care, and fair visiting hours.”

She also “called on the National Human Rights Commission to fight for the bail rights of prisoners that are trying to fight their cases from behind bars.” This right is one that is regularly abused in lese majeste cases, but apparently not when political crimes are committed by yellow shirts; they regularly get bail for all kinds of alleged crimes.

On the amnesty issue, the comment attributed to Jatuporn Promphan is worth repeating:

Thaksin and the Red Shirt leaders will not be granted amnesty, but the democrats [Democrat Party] are still playing stupid. They keep claiming that it’s for Thaksin. This has nothing to do with Thaksin or UDD leaders. It’s for the people. Releasing political prisoners is essential for progress in Thailand.

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