Bail still denied for lèse majesté detainee after 24 days
Outspoken anti-coup activist has been detained in prison since July 22. Two attempts have been made to post bail for her, but have failed.
Daranee Charncherngsilpakul, aka Da Torpedo, said that her close associates were seeking lawyers for her, and she had yet to see one. She wanted to be granted bail like Sondhi Limthongkul, leader of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), who was charged for the same offence for repeating her remarks, but got bail immediately. Unlike Sondhi, she said that she was arrested without a summons being issued first.
Daranee said that if she were to get bailed, she would not front the struggle for democracy anymore, because she felt hurt by the inaction of her fellow activists and the elected government only cared for its survival.
“It’s such a great pain that I am put into jail during the time of a democratically elected government,” said Daranee.
She insisted that Thai society needed to have the King as Head of state, like Japan and the UK whose monarchies are above politics. And Thai society should not allow the junta, the PAD, or anybody else to use the institution for political agitation among the public. Under a democracy, one needs to respect the rules, and it needs time for changes, she said.
She said the prison was crowded, with 82 female convicts in a 12 x 4 meters cell which normally accommodates 50. And she had difficulty in eating due to pain and swelling in a molar.
Suthachai Yimprasert, a fellow anti-coup activist, tried unsuccessfully to seek bail twice on July 23 and 25 using his own position as a lecturer of Chulalongkorn University as surety. The court denied both requests on the grounds that Daranee had committed a serious crime and would probably flee. Suthachai, however, will reportedly make another attempt.
On Aug 5, 139 people signed a public petition asking the court to release Daranee on bail, but to no avail.
Afterwards, a web-board member of www.sameskybooks.org posted an email from Amnesty International (AI) Thailand’s Director Boonthan Tansuthepweerawong responding to his inquiry that AI needed more information on the case. It needs to make sure that Daranee’s case fits the category of ‘prisoner of conscience’. If so, there would be a global campaign, but a thorough and comprehensive study of the case would need some time. AI Thailand has to forward the information to the secretariat in London as it does not sit on AI’s joint committee. It would be great if AI Thailand received the information in English to save translation time. Boonthan, however, finally said that there were certain issues that AI Thailand could not tackle, including political cases like this.
Daranee was a vociferous supporter of Thaksin, hence her alias ‘Torpedo’. She appeared on the anti-PAD stage at Sanam Luang on the night of July 18, saying ……… (Reproducing what she said can lead to another lèse majesté charge as learned by Sondhi himself). At the urging of Sondhi from the PAD stage, the Royal Army issued a ‘most urgent’ letter on July 21 to the Metropolitan Police Commander to press charges against her. She has her own website which has been suspended due to her absence.
Sondhi Limthongkul, Thaksin’s friend-turned-foe, was also charged with the same offence for repeating on the PAD stage on the night of July 20 what Daranee had said. On July 24, accompanied by about 500 PAD supporters, he reported to the police and was immediately released on bail, guaranteed by Senator Kamnoon Sitthisaman, his employee at the Manager Media Group, despite the Metropolitan Police Commander’s previous claim of ‘one standard’. Gen Pathompong Kesornsuk, Supreme Command’s Advisory Committee Chairperson, was reportedly also present at the police interrogation of Sondhi, claiming to be Sondhi’s witness. Gen Pathompong, a close aide of Privy Councillor Chairperson Gen Prem Tinasulanonda, had previously appeared on the PAD stage, claiming Gen Prem’s consent and urging his fellow soldiers to follow suit.