Red Shirts across Thailand have amplified their calls for the government to grant amnesty to all political prisoners still suffering in jail. These calls have increased in intensity following the Criminal Court’s decision to sentence prominent Red Shirt activist Somyot Prueksakasemsuk to 10 years imprisonment for allegedly violating Thailand’s lèse majesté law. The verdict has prompted major outcries from local and international critics who have condemned the sentence as a political maneuver.
UDD lawyer Robert Amsterdam traveled to Bangkok this week to express solidarity with Somyot. During his visit with Somyot in Bangkok Remand Prison on Monday, Amsterdam told the press that
The charges against Somyot are being used by the opposition who are against free speech and human rights. They are the reason we are here visiting our friends in jail.
Amsterdam was joined by UDD lawyer Karom Polpornklang, who represents Somyot and many other Red Shirts in their struggle for justice. With regards to Somyot’s case, he said,
There is still hope for Somyot, there are many channels that we will pursue to get justice in the appeal process.
Amsterdam also paid visit to Lak Si prison, where more than 20 Red Shirts are held for charges stemming from the post-2006 political conflict.
The UDD continues to support Red Shirt and 112 prisoners legally by providing lawyers and funds for bail, and has prioritised amnesty for all political prisoners as part of their action plan for 2013. Two weeks ago the UDD issued a draft Amnesty Decree which, if signed by the Prime Minister, would free all prisoners whose crimes stem from the current political conflict. The Decree was formally submitted to the government on Tuesday by Red Shirt co-leader and Deputy Commerce Minister Natthawut, while thousands of Red Shirts gathered in front of Government House demanding a response to their calls for amnesty.