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From Our Member Suaram, Malaysia – Thailand: In solidarity with SP ” Drop all charges and Release SP Immediately! “

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Press Statement: 13 February 2012

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) is extremely concerned and calls upon for the immediate release of Somyot Pruksakasemsuk who was arrested on the 30th April 2011 as editor of the Voice of Taksin magazine and is currently being held at Bangkok Remand Prison, in Bangkok. He has been imprisoned without bail since 30 April 2011 and faced charges under lèse-majesté law.

We understand that Somyot was arrested on a charge of defaming, insulting and threatening the King, Queen and heir apparent (Section112 of the Penal Code) a charge which he fully denies. He also was not aware that any arrest warrant had previously been issued and strongly denies any claim that he resisted arrest.

Somyot Pruksakasemsuk is one of the Trade Union activist and journalist of Thailand who has been imprisoned on the charge of lese-majeste. Somyot started to involved in the movement from 1975, when he saw the government’s brutality to suppress people’s movement during his student days. In fact, he was motivated by the suppression of the government. He has been charge for lese-majeste, just because he was chief editor of one of the magazines, which has published an article written by an academia in 2010 February.

There have been hearing dates for the Prosecutor’s witnesses on 21 November 2011, 19 December 2011 and 16 January 2012 in different provinces and today in Songkla province. These will be followed by dates for the Defendant’s witnesses in Bangkok Criminal Court on May 2012.

We are gravely concerned about the hearings for the Prosecutor’s witnesses which being held outside Bangkok in different provinces have put burden on Somyot and his attorneys as well as participation of trial observers, diplomatic corps, and journalists. We are worried because the moving from prison to prison has threatened Somyot’s health and security.

SUARAM is also deeply concerned over Somyot’s applications for bail which have been refused for many times. The government still fails to give adequate reason and justification for the denial of the bail and over his prolonged detention. This is a totally arbitrary act by the government and a gross abuse of executive power.

Therefore SUARAM urge the Thailand government to:
1. Release Somyot immediately and unconditionally as his detention is arbitrary since it only aims at sanctioning his human rights activities;
2. Drop all the charges against Somyot and as well as other political prisoners journalists and any other individuals based on the lèse-majesté laws and pardon all who are serving sentences under these laws;
3. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Somyot as well as other political prisoners and human rights defenders in Thailand
4. Put an end to any kind of harassment – including at the judicial level – against Somyot as well as other political prisoners and human rights defenders in Thailand
5. Conform in any circumstances with the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted on December 9, 1998 by the United Nations General Assembly, in particular:
● its article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually or in association with others, to promote the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”;
● its article 5.b, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, at the national and international levels, (…) to form, join and participate in non-governmental organizations, associations or groups”;
● its article 12.2 which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;
6. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards.

Released by,

Nalini Elumalai
Executive Director