At their weekly press conference on Wednesday, UDD leaders celebrated the recent release of Red Shirt prisoners Saichon Paebua and Pinit Chanarong after three years of imprisonment without bail. The duo was finally acquitted on Monday of the arson attack on the Central World shopping centre that occurred on May 19th 2010, the last day of the Red Shirt protests at Ratchaprasong. The two other defendants in the case, both juveniles, had already been acquitted in December 2012.
UDD leader Tida Tawornseth said that the verdict proved that the Democrats have lied about what happened that day,
They’ve tried to sell a lie to Thailand and the world, instead they’ve robbed innocent people of their freedom and their dignity. That is truly criminal.
Tida also expressed her grievances towards the courts that had denied Saichon and Pinit their right to bail,
For three years they’ve been treated as convicted criminals. Why weren’t they granted bail, where is the reasoning?
Her words echo the frustrations of progressives who have called on Thailand’s judges to respect the rights of the accused, especially in politically motivated cases.
Regrettably, political prisoners are not alone in feeling the repercussions of 2010 and the UDD must be more attentive to the needs of suffering Red Shirts, Tida said. Following a rally in Pichit on Saturday, the chairwoman met with Red Shirts who continue to experience illnesses and injuries related to the April-May protests in 2010. Similar cases have been reported throughout the country and are deserving of critical attention.
Along with Nisit Sinthuprai and Jatuporn Prompan, Tida met with former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra in Hong Kong on Tuesday to discuss a systematic approach to alleviating the suffering of Red Shirts who continue to pay the price for their activism,
We call on core leaders in all provinces to survey their areas and report any such cases. Three years down the line, these people need the support of the Red Shirt community more than ever.
Finally, Tida was disturbed by the police investigation of the Thai PBS program Tob Jote that hosted an unprecedented five part debate on the monarchy under the constitution. The last two episodes featured a lively debate between noted historian Somsak Jeamteerasakul and the royalist scholar Sulak Sivaraska who discussed the implications of Thailand’s notorious lèse majesté law, or article 112 of the criminal code.
The broadcasting of the final episode was delayed after a small group of ultra-royalists protested outside the network’s building, claiming that the program insulted the institution of the monarchy. Sadly, the police have followed suit and have set up a excessively large team of 50 investigators to comb through the program’s transcripts for defamatory content.
Tida was incredulous,
It goes to show that extremist conservatives are still a powerful force in Thailand. It’s madness.