Updates on the situation of political prisoners between 1 April – 14 May 2024

“Bung” died in custody while being detained in Section 112 (lese-majeste) case.

Currently, 43 individuals are being detained as political prisoners, including 25 facing Section 112 charges.  

27 pre-trial detainees are being denied the right to bail.  

As of 14 May 2024, at least 43 individuals remained in detention for political charges, setting a record high in at least the past four years. Among the 43 political prisoners, more than half are facing Section 112 charges. In 2024, none of them have been granted bail in six consecutive months (excluding those initially indicted who applied for bail for the first time).  

#BungThaluwang, a political prisoner facing Section 112 charges who had been deprived of her liberty for 110 days, has passed away following her hunger strike which began on 27 January 2024. She was on hunger strike to advocate for two demands: (1) the reform of the justice system, and (2) for no one to be imprisoned for holding or expressing dissenting opinions. These demands have seen very little progress.

Meanwhile, the individuals who are currently in prison have to face harsh living conditions due to the scorching heat of the Thai summer. Several suffer from their prior medical conditions and other ailments. Other political prisoners feel unsafe due to threats and harassment made against them by their fellow inmates simply because of their political expression in prison. 

There are at least 43 political prisoners, who can be divided into two groups

Pre-trial detainees: 27 

Charged under Section 112: 18  

Charged under Section 116: 2  

Other charges: 7

April saw a new pre-trial detainee, “Pornchai Wimonsuppawong,” in the Chiang Mai Provincial Prison. He was charged under Section 112 in connection with four Facebook posts. He has been detained since 4 April 2024, after the Appeals Court Region 5 upheld the lower court’s verdict to convict and sentence him to 12 years in prison and the Supreme Court denied his bail request.  

Another detainee is Phattharachai (pseudonym), who had been detained for Section 112 at Ban Metta Juvenile Vocational Training Center. Although he has already completed his sentence on 23 April, he has yet to be discharged from Ban Metta since he was indicted in another case. As a result, he is scheduled to be released on 24 November 2024.

The number of pre-trial detainees has slightly decreased due to the passing of “Bung Natiporn” or “Bung Thalu Wang” on 14 May 2024 under the authority of the Department of Corrections. Her detention stemmed from a Section 112 charge. It was initially determined that she died of cardiac arrest. Nonetheless, the causes of death shall be further investigated through an autopsy which will commence on 15 May.

Prisoners in cases that have concluded: 16 

Detained in Section 112 cases: 7 

Prisoners in Thai Federal cases (accused of being members of a secret society): 2 

Other cases: 7

On 9 April 2024,  one individual detained in prison was released. This was “Parithat” (pseudonym), 33, who had been in prison since 12 October 2022 from a Section 112 case, serving his sentence of one year and six months which he received from the First Instance and Appeals Courts.

In May 2024, there has been no release of any political detainee in a concluded case,  However, in June, one individual is scheduled to be released after having served the entire sentence in prison, namely “Yong” ( name withheld), 51. He has been detained for violating Section 112 since 1 December 2020, which was when he was convicted and sentenced to six years by the lower court for publishing comments in a Facebook post about members of the royal family.  

Uncle Yong counts as a political prisoner whose case has reached its conclusion. He has been detained for the “second longest time” of over 1,260 days, or nearly three and a half years, second only to Aunty Anchan who will complete her sentence in 2031, or the next seven 7 years.

Concerned situations of political prisoners 

Inmates in Area 6 of the Bangkok Remand Prison are feeling unsafe from being threatened and harassed 

There are at least five political prisoners in Area 6 of the Bangkok Remand Prison including “Kong” Ukrit, “Mind” Chaiyaphon, “Book” Thanayuth, Chirawat, and “Kanun” Sirapob, who are feeling unsafe after they were subjected to threats and harassments from their fellow inmates because of their political expression. The political detainees expressed their political views by flashing three fingers when the Thai national anthem was played in the prison.  

Despite filing complaints with the prison and their pleading to have the inmates who made threats against them transferred, the prison authority has failed to respond or come up with measures to guarantee the safety of these political prisoners.  

On 10 May 2024, our attorneys submitted a letter to the Bangkok Remand Prison to have the five political prisoners transferred to another area to ensure their safety. Nonetheless, as of 14 May 2024, the prison authority has yet to respond on whether they will permit the request.  

Sickness of inmates in prison 

2.1 Covid-19 outbreak in Chiang Mai

At the Chiang Mai Provincial Prison where “Pornchai” is being held, there has been an outbreak of COVID-19, causing many infections among the inmates. Pornchai himself has started to cough, although he is unsure if he has been infected.  

During his previous detention in 2021, Pornchai caught COVID-19 while being held in the Chiang Mai prison. He only found out about the infection a few days after being allowed to post bail. As a result, he had to stay in isolation in Chiang Mai during the time before coming to work in Bangkok.  

Similarly, at Ban Metta, Poom who was remanded in custody recalled that at Ban Metta, there were people who tested positive for COVID-19 (albeit the exact number was not known). As a result, Poom had to take precautions and had to stay in quarantine along with his friends at Ban Metta.

2.2 Poom failing to receive shoulder operation, despite three months past 

“Poom,” a 20-year-old activist, is being detained at Ban Metta in connection with a Section 112 case. In February, he suffered from a dislocated right shoulder. Three months passed and Poom had yet to receive the operation of his shoulder due to the unavailability of operation services at Chulalongkorn Hospital.  

Nonetheless, he has been informed by doctors at Chulalongkorn Hospital that he would promptly receive the operation. As a result, the doctor wrote a memo to the Sirindhorn Hospital where Poom was eligible to prepare for an operation theater although it will be carried out by a medical team from Chulalongkorn Hospital.  

2.3 Kallaya ‘blacking out’ while bathing 

Kallaya, a detainee at the Narathiwat Provincial Prison in connection with a Section 112 case, has been suffering from thrombosis since before her imprisonment. At present, she still needs constant monitoring and has to see a doctor regularly. She also suffered from blood clots in her legs, although the doctor at Narathiwat Provincial Hospital told her that her blood tests looked normal. As a result, she did not qualify for a CT scan or ultrasound scan, as she desired.  

In addition, the recent heat wave caused Kallaya to feel a headache and eye pain. Previously she suffered from hypertension and would black out while bathing. Luckily, her fellow detainees were there to help her and she felt better after about ten minutes of rest.