After intense lobbying by the UDD and Red Shirt activists fighting on behalf of political prisoners, the Ministry of Justice has recently agreed to transfer 4 convicted Red Shirt political prisoners from Bangkok Remand Prison to Laksi Prison.
UDD chairwoman Tida Tawornseth said the move is significant because Laksi was originally reserved for persons on trial for politically related offenses. The decision to transfer political prisoners already convicted of violating the Abhisit government’s Emergency Decree of April-May 2010 brings Laksi one step closer to becoming a prison for all political prisoners, she said.
However, the Ministry did not approve the transfer of lèse majesté (112) prisoners that were included in the UDD’s request. The decision demonstrates the devastating political marginalization of 112 prisoners. Even Mr. Yuttapoom Martnork, accused of lèse majesté by his brother, was not green-lighted for transfer. Since his arrest in September 2012, the court has denied him bail several times and he will have spent 11 months in Bangkok Remand Prison before the start of his trial in August.
All the 112 prisoners should have been transferred as well. But the Ministry said they are proceeding with caution, for fear of retaliation from the other side. We have been pushing for this for a long time now and it’s a difficult process. But there is still much work to be done. We are working on other ways to help the prisoners.
Human rights activists are growing increasingly frustrated at the lack of political will to work on behalf of all political prisoners, including those charged under Article 112. Nevertheless, Tida said that there may be a window of opportunity in the near future, as the palace is currently considering requests for a Royal pardon from 112 prisoners Surachai Danwattananusorn, Tanthawut Taweewarodomkol, and Wanchai Saetan. If the decisions are favourable, then the transfer might happen.