“The order to incarcerate suspects prior to trial will only deepen the wounds inflicted on the people”: Mike Panupong and his return to the prison

“My return to the prison this time causes me no problems. Unlike my previous stint in jail, I had no anxiety anticipating what I will face inside. I adjusted very quickly this time. The problem for me is that the presumption of innocence should apply to all suspects. I am not ok with the remand in custody during the police investigation. This is unwarranted. It is better to be detained at the Border Patrol Police Region 1 Headquarters, instead of being sent to the prison even before a judgment is made by the Court. In the prison, we are all mixed up among those who are still  innocent pending charge or trial and convicts whose cases have reached the final verdicts.”

“It is hard to be labeled a jailbird and it is hard to explain the matter to people. I do not want to keep explaining to people why I have landed in jail. This will only deepen the wounds in people’s hearts. The order to lock up suspects prior to trial will only deepen the wounds inflicted on the people and such wounds are unwarranted.”

“I know that it is natural for an activist to get injured and to suffer from wounds as they struggle. Such wounds should be caused by blades during the battle, rather than wounds inflicted by the judicial process. By levying trump-up charges against people, it will only make it very difficult for them to attain their civil and political rights prescribed in international law and the Constitution. The Court should exercise their judgment carefully before granting the remand order as requested by the police. If the Court grants all the remand orders tendered by the police, this could mean that the Court sides with the police”.

“In my case, I wonder why I have to be remanded in custody. I have been cooperating with the police and appearing in countless demonstrations. There is no reason to believe I could abscond. The police can always encounter me in every protest.”

His feeling being locked up for the second time in two months 

“The order to have me remanded in custody attests to the twisted nature of the judicial system. I announced beforehand that I would be present during the #Mob17Oct at Ramkhamhaeng University, even though I knew I could be arrested there. I am willing to cooperate and absconding is never an option for me. I do not want to always be on the run since I believe I have done nothing wrong. I have no idea why I would have to run away.”

“Being in jail for the second time in two months has taught me many things. The Corrections Department has simplified the process for us. They probably know the reason why I have to come here. They probably know my needs and allow me to wear shorts while taking a bath. The correction officers try to explain that they are just those who receiving alleged offenders and defendants and they have no sway over the decision about which persons shall be incarcerated. Those in the higher echelons of the judicial process itself have to be critiqued. Did people really commit the alleged crime? How severe is the penalty to which one should be subject? Who are the suspects and what kind of treatment do they warrant? People in the higher echelons of the judiciary have to reckon with these facts.”

“The Court itself can be a tool of the police if the police want to hold any public assembly organizers in custody. If the Court rules in the police’s favor, that means they help to facilitate the police’s action. The Court then indirectly helps to suppress people. The Court should be aware that there is no use to keep arresting the protest leaders since it does not help to bring down the number of protesters.”

His demands and his pride

“I have two things to demand from my friends. First, help the campaign to pressure political parties to pull out from the coalition since it is a common goal for all of us to have General Prayuth removed from this office. By pulling out from the coalition, it renders the Prayuth regime useless.”

“Second, please continue demanding the release of all our friends from prison. The release timing should be specifically fixed, and the procedure must be clear. Please put pressure on the police stations which request the remand in custody of each of our friends. Whether the remand request will be dropped or not depends on the inquiry officials of each of the responsible jurisdictions.”

“I have no regrets about having to be back here. I know a fighter can always suffer from a wound which becomes an obstacle along the path of our struggle to achieve democracy. I feel proud that many people have come out to fight for our cause tirelessly. It is my wish that everyone will continue to fight and rekindle their hope to restore democracy.”

His last message to his friends: “After I get out, let’s have some raw meat dishes together.”


Update: “Mike” Panupong was arrested on the evening of 17 Oct 2020 according to the two cases derived from the gathering held at Sanam Luang on 19 Sep 2020. In total, Mike has been detained in the state’s custody for 10 consecutive days. As of today (26 Oct), the lawyers have already submitted the second bail motion with the securities of 500,000 Baht to the court. However, we still need to wait for the court’s order.


Read related stories:

Voice of “Rung Panusaya” from the Central Women’s Prison (22 Oct 2020)

Court Order Disclosed – Anon’s bail revoked – Mike’s conditions added. Both deny reapplication.

The cycle of violation has resumed: 9 activists were arrested amidst the escalating political situation.