Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, 59, has been through the thick and thin, numerous protests, legal cases and seven years in prison after being convicted of violation of Article 112. This time, Somyot is back in prison again on a national security offense, but this time he is accused of violating Article 116 of the Criminal Code in relation to his public speech on 19 September 2020 at Thammasat University. The Criminal Court denied him bail.
The present is yet another time that Somyot has to spend time in the Bangkok Remand Prison as an inmate. Somyot appears in a blue shirt and spectacles when meeting with his attorney today. Luckily, he is yet forced to wear a buzz cut. Apart from discussing his legal case, TLHR would like to be a conduit for him to express his views to the outside world.
++ How do you feel being back here in the Bangkok Remand Prison again?++
“It feels even more painful having to lie on the floor with just a blanket underneath. It causes me pain in my back and tailbone. Just before I was released, the rule about only allowing inmates to have three blankets for sleeping came out: one is for laying down on the floor, another one is for covering the body, and the last one is for making a pillow). It wasn’t a huge problem, but I still raised the issue with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). Having to sleep with only this is a human rights violation. But it has led to no action.”
The holding cells are still in poor condition. Also, during the 14-day quarantine in which we are barred from contact with anyone, it makes us even more miserable. Even though I can adjust since I have done time before, the conditions here this time are even worse than before. It makes me suffer even more physically.”
Asked about the case related to the 19 September 2020 protest that has caused him to be remanded in prison again, he recalls that “The police alleged that as a protest leader, I was involved with the breaking of the gates at Thammasat University, even though I was not at all involved with it. I arrived at the university around 13.00 and walked straight there to speak. I was not one of the organizers of the event. But the police accuse me of being one of the organizers since I had posted about it to invite my Facebook friends to participate in the event. They have used my Facebook post as incriminating evidence. I find the allegation against me to be unbelievable.”
“When I went up there to speak, I had no idea I would face a legal case. I just exercised my freedom to fight against the dictators. I had no idea at all that it would land me in jail again. The judicial process has ostensibly been used as a tool to stifle freedom of expression.”
Asked about the situation outside the prison, Somyot shares that, “They thought by rounding up the protest leaders, everyone will stop. But it is not true. Today, we already bear witness how the demonstrations can be organized independently without leaders. It is a legitimate fight, and we will eventually win.”
“People who vilify us should feel ashamed of themselves and they will be defeated by the power of young people.”
Update: After getting arrested and then detained at the Bangkok Remand Prision for 18 days, the court made an order to grant bail request submitted by Somyot. He was released on 3 November 2020. Right after the release, Somyot then continues his mission to bring about changes to the society.
Read related stories:
“We cannot live like this, we cannot live in a society like this”: “Pai Dao Din” yells from behind the bars
“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
Voice of “Rung Panusaya” from the Central Women’s Prison (22 Oct 2020)