Mittwoch, 19. Dezember 2012

The Somyot Prueksakasemsuk trial - ENGLISH VERSION

zur Deutschen Version

“I would not be the last victim as long as we are still trapped in the rule which is essentially a dictatorship, but is falsely portrayed as a democracy to the world. I shall fight for freedom until my last breath. I may agree to shed my freedom, but not my humanity."

(written from prison by Somyot Prueksakasemsuk ,holding cell, Crime Suppression Division,
Bangkok 8.30 am, May 2, 2011)

Somyot Prueksakasemsuk at the Criminal Court 19.12.2012

UPDATE: For the verdict of 23. January 2013 CLICK HERE!

The accusations and arrest

Somyot Prueksakasemsuk was arrested on April 30th 2011 at the Aranyaprathet border checkpoint (Sa Keaw province) after the immigration officer Mrs. Pol Sen Sgt Maj Kanokrak Tanlo checked his passport and recognised he was searched for with an arrest warrant for violating section 112 of the Criminal Code. Allegedly he worked as a tour guide that day and wanted to lead a group of tourists to Cambodia. But there might have been other reasons for him to cross the border. In an interview with the German correspondent Nicola Glass during a red shirt protest in front of the UN-building he explained: "In fact, the government banned the printing house (closed the print office) but not banned the Red Power magazine. We are going to lead out (deliver) the magazine again. And this magzine is going to be printed in our neighbouring country Cambodia and we will import it to Thailand. We will smuggle our magazine across the border. That means in Thai society we have no freedom to express ideas or freedom of speech." (Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, 26.10.2010)  (report in German language)
Between his release from his first detention in 2010 and his arrest in 2011 he crossed the border to Cambodia four times without any problems.

The DSI (Departmend of Special Investigation) could have arrested him at home anytime, his home address was no secret and he was not on the run. On the contrary, he was politically active in public (see images below) and working as an editor. If I could find him and take pictures without problems, why couldn't the police or the DSI? Instead they were waiting until he was leaving the country. This behaviour of the authorities reminds me of the arrest of Chiranuch Premchaiporn, who was arrested on September 24th 2010 at Suvarnabhumi airport when she returned from an internet conference in Budapest. Why at the airport? The police knew where she lived and they knew the address of the Prachatai office. She, however, was released after paying 200,000 Baht in bail (see footnote #1).,38440.html

October 26 th 2010, Somyot joined the red shirt protest at the UN-building at Ratchdamnoen Nok road.

On January 25th 2011 Somyot staged a protest with members and supportes of his 24th June democracy group at the Democracy Monument .

Somyot is charged as responsible editor-in-chief of publishing (not writing!) two articles in the "Voice Of Thaksin" magazine, written by Jit Pollachan, a pseudonym for the fugitive Jakrapob Penkair (see footnote #2). The pseudonym Jit Pollachan was made up of the Thai left wing thinkers Jit (or Chit)  Phumisak, a poet, historian and communist (murdered 1966) and Asanee Pollachan. Both articles were considered offensive to the monarchy.
The prosecutor accused Somyot that both articles were violating section 112 of the Criminal Code (see footnote #3).
It has also to be mentioned, that his arrest came just five days after the launch of a campaign to demand a parliamentary review of Section 112 of the criminal code. The Democracy Network, of which Somyot was a member, tried to collect 10.000 signatures for the petition to the parliament.

The Trial

Somyot Prueksakasemsuk at the Criminal Court December 19th 2012
After nearly seven months in investigative custody the trial started on November 21st 2011 and the final witness's hearing was held on May 3rd 2012. Since then Somyot is waiting for the verdict. During the trial four hearings of witnesses for the prosecution were held at provincial courts in different provinces. Each time Somyot was transferred to the particular provincial courts in Sa Keaw, Petchabun, Nakorn Sawan and Songkla, altogether a distance of more than 4000 kilometres.
Knowing about the poor health of Somyot, who is suffering from hypertension and gout, this behaviour by the authorities is not comprehensible. Particularly due to the fact, that all four witnesses are living and working in Bangkok and therefore it would have been less time-consuming and stressful for Somyot and the witnesses if the hearings were held at the Criminal Court in Bangkok.

Press briefing on September 7th 2012 with one of his lawyers Karom Polponklang and his wife Sukunya. 
The first date of issuing the verdict on 19th September 2012 has been postponed to 19th December 2012. Somyot's lawyer lodged a complaint to the Constitutional Court about the lawfulness/constitutionality of Section 112 of the Criminal Code. The Criminal Court therefore had to delay the issuing of the verdict until the Constitutional Court delivered its decision on the complaint. The complaint had been dismissed.

19th December 2012 court hearing:

On 19th December 2012 the Criminal Court just read the Constitutional Courts' decision and the reasons for the judgement. The next hearing will be held on 23rd January 2013. Possibly then the Criminal Court will finally announce the verdict.
Interestingly, there were hardly any red shirts or unionists at the Criminal Court on 19th December 2012. When I think of all those dozens or even hundreds of supporters backing Jatuporn and the other UDD members, it seems to me that there is not much support left for Somyot (from the Thai people). Around 100 people gathered in the court room, many were close friends, old comrades, international observers from several NGO's, from embassies and Thai and foreign journalists. For more than 30 years Somyot dedicated his life to the working class of Thailand but it seems that there are just very few who remember.

19th December 2012, the Red Power magazine being sold at the Criminal Court canteen!

During his 20 months of permanent imprisonment 11 requests for release on bail by his family and his lawyers had been denied.

Panitan Pruksakasemsuk went on hungerstrike for 112 hours from 11. - 16. February 2012 to support i.a. the 7th request for release on bail.
More about the hungerstrike of his son in February 2012:  (in English and German)


Detention since April 2011

At first Somyot was detained in a prison in Sa Keaw, and later, in early November 2011 he was transferred to the Bangkok Remand Prision. During his relocation from Sa Keaw to Bangkok in an overcrowded truck he had to stand the whole time with his ankles chained. Somyot said the living conditions in Sa Kaew prison were better than those of Bangkok Remand Prison in terms of food and environment, but it was crowded and overfilled with prisoners. The prisoners have to squeeze tightly together to sleep (sorry, lost the link to this source). During his detention he became known as the librarian of Bangkok Remand Prison.

Some Facts About Somyots Live:

Born on September 20th 1961, he dedicated his life to the empowerment of the workers, their rights and their living conditions. He is married to Sukunya "Joop", a core member of the 112 Family Network, They have two children Tai and Tian (nicknames).

Somjot's wife Sukunya "Joop" Prueksakasemsuk

In the 1970's he joined his elder brother during the pro-democracy uprising in 1976. At that time he was just a 15-year-old teenage junior highschool student.

In 1986 he started to work fulltime for the Thailand YCW (Young Christian Workers) movement (one NGO) in Rangsit.
"The YCW is a movement of education through action based on the experiences young workerslive", .
In 1991 Somyot and some colleagues founded the Centre for Labour and International Solidarity in Thailand (CLIST) which provided much-needed training and advice for local unions in the industrial zones of the Bangkok region.

Somyot Prueksakasemsuk was also a former project coordinator for ICEM (International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions) in Thailand. He always tried to improve the working and living conditions and the rights of workers, so he joined amongst other things the Clean Clothes Campaign on numerous occations, including the landmark Eden case in the mid-nineties and more recently the MSP case in 2006.
"The Clean Clothes Campaign is dedicated to improving working conditions and supporting the empowerment of workers in the global garment and sportswear industries".

In 2005 he launched a left-wing publishing company. Among other things, it produced paperbacks about the Thai labour movement. As part of the company’s dissemination work, he also organised a series of public debates and seminars and he used online forums and blogs to engage people on issues of Thai politics, labour and social justice as well.

After the coup in September 2006 he formed the "24th of June For Democracy Group" in 2007 and joined  the "National United Front of Democracy against Dictatorship", which later developed into the "UDD" (for a short time he was one of the core members).

On July 26th 2007 he launched the twice monthly magazine "Voice of Thaksin". Somyot acted as chief editor of the magazine and the website. In 2010 he changed the magazine's name into "Red Power".

On May 24th 2010 he was detained for 21 days. He was accused by the CRES (Centre for Resolution of Emergency Situation) of violating section 11 of the Emergency Decree on Government Administration in States of Emergency B.E. 2548 (2005), which allows the arrest and detention of "a person suspected of having a role in causing the emergency situation, or being an instigator, making the propagation, a supporter of such act or concealing relevant information relating to the act which caused the State of Emergency”.

In 2012 he was shortlisted for the Somchai Neelapaichit Award.

#1: Chiranuch Premchaiporn (or Premchaipoen) is the webmaster of the Prachatai website and was accused of violating section 14 and 15 of the Computer Crime act and section 112 of the Criminal Code.
In 2011 she was one of several Asean laureates awarded with the Hellman-Hammett-Prize. (in German language only)

#2: Jakrapob Penkair - became government spokesperson of Thaksin Shinawatra in 2003 and he was a founding member of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) after the coup in September 2006.

#3: Section 112 of the Criminal Code: Whoever defames, insults or threatens the King, the Queen, the Heir Apparent or the Regent, shall be punished with imprisonment of three to fifteen years.

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