Lawyer’s Notes from Prison Visit: ‘Penguin’, the solidarity and his gleaming hope

Even though ‘Mike’ Panupong Jadnok, ‘Boy’ Chatchai Kaedam, ‘Fah’ Promsorn Viradhammajair, Nutchanon Pairoj, and ‘Penguin’ Parit Chiwarak were temporarily released on the 15th September 2021 from the #2AugustProtest case, Penguin is still being detained at the Thanyaburi district prison from the case of #19SeptemberProtest. 

Today, we started the conversation with Penguin asking about his well-being. We were informed on Wednesday that Penguin had a doctor appointment about his asthma symptoms. Penguin told us that the doctor has given him medicines for asthma, which is an aromatic balm. He also said that after he recovered from Covid-19, his breathing was still not back to normal and he tended to be tired more easily than usual. 

“I’m tired but at this point, I’m used to it” said Penguin. Nonetheless, he said that at Thanyaburi district prison, he was detained on the 3rd floor and there was a mezzanine floor within the room. With such an environment, he felt a bit more spacious. “I think of it as a garden in heaven.” This is how Penguin thinks while he is imprisoned due to his peaceful expression. 

Besides, we told Penguin that the prison has a television for entertainment. But it is for entertainment like movies only, not for catching up on current news. 

Penguin said that in his morning routines and before going to bed, he would write poems or scribble random things. In the evening, he would read books. Staying in the prison, Penguin gets to sleep and read. 

“Actually, books are my spirit. But when I’m outside, I don’t have much time to read. Life is like this.”

We have so many feelings. First feeling is that Penguin seems to be a strong person and has a sharp understanding of life. Second feeling is that these words came from a 23-year-old. Who would dare to say what he is encountering is no big deal?

At this point, we realized that the poem written by Penguin for people outside was just published today. It was the same day that “Panithan Ladyao” (The will of Ladyao Prison),  a poem composed by Arnon, was released. Therefore, we shared this poem with Penguin to read. 

Penguin read the poem and said Arnon was always sharp with his words in the poem. Moreover, he told us that last Sunday, when Penguin estimated that he would be imprisoned for a long period of time, Arnon also estimated his scenario to be the same as Penguin’s. 

Nevertheless, Penguin still had hope that he would be granted bail. “Last time, it was like a hurricane that I never knew when it would end. But this time, it is like a heavy rain. It is still harsh but there is some light in the middle of this heavy rain. I can see a faint gleam.”

Penguin also sent his solidarity to Arnon and Pai, “I miss Pai and Arnon so much. I miss Pai. No one plays chess with me. It is so difficult to find the chess pieces. Once we found it, Boy got bailed out. When I found all the chess pieces, I had no one to play with. So, I have to return the chess game to them.”

“Please tell Arnon that I’m back to composing a Niras (poems about journeys) now. It was better than ever. I want him to critique it and help edit it. For the poem ‘Panitan Ladyao’, I surrendered to Arnon. Once I read it, I immediately recognized the signature that was Arnon’s.” 

We asked permission from Penguin whether we can publish his message to Pai and Arnon to the public. He said yes. 

The readers of this note would understand the thoughts of Penguin much faster than Pai and Arnon, who are still detained in the Central Correctional Institution. Time in prison passes by very slowly, communication between prisons is probably even slower. Penguin’s thoughts may have reached Pai and Arnon at later dates. 

We wrapped up the conversation with Penguin’s legal cases, reminding him of the appointments of the Contempt of Court case in which Penguin and his friends (9 people in total) are facing at the Thanyaburi Province court. 

When we drove back from the prison, there was heavy rain while we were one the road. If we look at the circumstances of what political activists have to encounter, it is the storm of cases which happened very quickly and severely throughout the year. But, at this point, Penguin and his friends see this detention as “a heavy rain with faint gleam.” We can only hope that the light of justice will soon shine and reach everyone who was detained because they expressed their thoughts. 

Thanyaburi district prison,

20 September 2021