On Tuesday, 500 Red Shirts and UDD leaders gathered outside Laksi Prison in Bangkok to announce a draft executive decree which, if signed by prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra, would grant amnesty to all political prisoners, excluding decision-makers.
The concise draft decree states that all persons, Red, Yellow, or other, charged or convicted of a criminal offense should be granted amnesty if said offense stemmed from Thailand’s post-coup political conflict (2007-2012). However, people in leadership and decision-making positions would not be let off the hook, the draft decree stipulated.
UDD leader and Pheu Thai MP Dr Weng Tojirakan, who authored the draft decree, said,
This is long overdue. Finally there is hope for Thailand’s political prisoners.
Although the Thai state does not recognize lèse majesté prisoners as ‘political’, the decree could include 112 if the charges are related to Thailand’s recent political conflict, such as in the case of Red Shirt editor Somyot Prueksakasemsuk. It will depend on how the government chooses to phrase and implement the executive decree.
UDD leader Jatuporn Prompan is hopeful that the government will move forward with amnesty. A meeting with prime minister Yingluck is expected later in the month of January.
The UDD’s announcement follows a proposal by the Nitirat Law group of Thammasat University that a new amnesty article be added to the constitution. UDD leader Tida Tawornseth said that she appreciated the groups intentions but that the constitutional path would be extremely long and difficult,
We need to act swiftly. We cannot let political prisoners waste away one by one.
In honor of the late Red Shirt prisoner Wanchai Raksanguansilp who died behind bars at the end of 2012, the UDD donated exercise machines to Laksi prison in the hope that it would help prisoners stay healthy while behind bars. Wanchai’s passing followed the death of 112 prisoner Ampol Tangnopakul in May 2012 which originally brought attention to the lack of proper medical care for inmates.