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Democracy Update 27/2/13

The UDD is in full preparation for Sunday’s gubernatorial election in Bangkok. Thousands of volunteers have attended training workshops and will monitor polling units throughout the city, Red Shirt leaders said at the UDD’s weekly press conference on Wednesday.

UDD leader Tida Tawornseth stated,

We are doing our part to promote and improve democratic practice in Thailand. We want a clean and transparent election.

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Thousands of Red Shirts to Monitor Bangkok Election

Thousands of Red Shirt volunteers gathered at Bangkok Thonburi University on Sunday for a training session on the upcoming Bangkok gubernatorial election. The UDD is collaborating with the Election Commission to monitor the election for foul-play and ensure transparency. Members of the Election Commission joined UDD leaders in outlining election procedures to the attendees.

Among the topics that were discussed were the proper ways of marking the ballots and the proper methods of reporting incorrect procedures.

According to UDD leader Tida Tawornseth,

During the last gubernatorial election, there were 200,000 invalid ballots, how is that possible? We must help make sure that the proper procedure is followed.

An anticipated 10,000 Red Shirt volunteers will join other election observers at polling stations on March 3rd.

 

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112 Trial Concludes for Red Shirt Activist

The trial of Red Shirt activist Akechai Hongkangwarn, accused of violating Thailand’s lèse majesté law, concluded Friday morning at Ratchada Criminal Court. The verdict is set for March 28th. 

Akechai was arrested on March 11th 2011 for allegedly selling video CD recordings of a documentary by the Australian ABC channel on Thailand’s royal institution, but was granted bail on March 18th. Akechai insists that he had no intention to insult or defame the monarchy. 

A dedicated activist and freelance journalist who has worked for the UDD, Akechai is hopeful that the court will decide in his favour.

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Somyot’s Plea for Justice

Convicted Red Shirt prisoner Somyot Prueksakasemsuk recently petitioned the Director of the Criminal Court Mr. Tawee Prajuablab to investigate the facts surrounding his arrest at the Thai-Cambodian border on the 30th of April 2011 and reevaluate his request for bail.

Somyot has been denied bail 13 times on the basis that he was attempting to flee the country when he was intercepted by border officials who have since allegedly opposed granting him bail. In a letter addressed to Mr. Tawee, Somyot explains that such allegations conflict with the facts as well as witness testimony.

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Democracy Update

During the UDD’s weekly press conference on Wednesday, co-leaders discussed the ongoing push for amnesty, efforts to observe the upcoming gubernatorial elections, and plans to expand political education initiatives across the country.

The UDD continues to push for the Amnesty Decree to be passed by the cabinet as an emergency resolution for political prisoners on both sides of the conflicts. Other groups have proposed alternative pathways for amnesty, such as Nitirat’s plan to add an amnesty chapter to the Constitution. While the UDD welcomes amnesty for political prisoners by any means possible, the co-leaders argue that an Amnesty Decree would offer the quickest solution.

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Red Shirts Gear Up for Bangkok Election

Hundreds of Red Shirts gathered at UDD headquarters on Sunday to prepare for the upcoming gubernatorial elections in Bangkok. Similar seminars will be held over the coming weeks to train 10,000 Red Shirt volunteers who will monitor polling units throughout the province for foul play on March 3rd.

Sunday’s participants stated that their intentions are to ensure a clean and fair election. 

One Red Shirt commented,

This election is really about protecting Thailand’s fragile democracy. We hope to set an example for the whole country.

Another volunteer reaffirmed that the UDD is mobilizing for democracy, not for a particular candidate,

It doesn’t matter who wins the election so long as it is won fairly.

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Resilient Somyot Determined to Fight for Bail Right

After 21 months of detention, Red Shirt activist Somyot Prueksakasemsuk was dealt a devastating 10 year sentence on two counts of lèse majesté for two articles he did not write. Despite the long and arduous appeal process ahead, Somyot is determined to prove his innocence.

In order to defend his case effectively, Somyot recognizes his pressing need for bail. But with 13 rejected bail requests behind him, he is looking for new approaches to fight for his fundamental human right.

The most recent bail denial came on February 4th. The Appeals Court stated in its dismissal that the case “was serious and affected the feelings and good morals of the public” and that Somyot might run from his charges.

He responded,

 They keep denying me bail on the basis that I might flee the country. I have every intention to fight my case to the end, but I can’t do it behind bars.

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United for Amnesty

At the press conference on Wednesday, UDD co-leaders discussed the necessity of amnesty for political prisoners in Thailand and the UDD’s short-term plans.

Amnesty for political prisoners of all colours, with the exception of rally leaders, is currently the main priority for the UDD. The organization has submitted a Draft Amnesty Decree proposal to the government which could provide speedy amnesty to those who are suffering in prison due to charges stemming from the current political conflict.

Jatuporn Prompan exclaimed,

Our brothers and sisters have been stuck in Laksi prison for too long. We must not be selfish and prioritise our own success over their release.

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