Protest leaders Denied Bail – Upcoming Protest Could Be Most Violent Yet

Police at Protest in Bangkok

On Monday, the Court of Appeal rejected a request to release four leaders of the Ratsadon Group – Parit Chiwarak, Arnon Nampa, Patipan Luecha and Somyot Phrueksakasemsuk,  citing their disrespect for the monarchy and saying they posed a flight risk.

The ruling, which was read out at the Criminal Court, denied their temporary release, saying their offences have tarnished the reputation of the royal institution and the charges against them carry heavy penalties.

The protest leaders were previously denied bail by the Court of First Instance.

On Saturday, anti-establishment protesters announced they will hold another rally on 20th February, if the government fails to release the protest leaders within a week.

When asked about the police’s preparations for another rally, national police chief Suwat Jangyodsuk said he couldn’t say how many officers will be assigned just yet.

Pol Gen Jangyodsuk also said the police will soon hold a briefing to explain to the public what had happened on the 13th February protest that turned violent.

After the weekly cabinet meeting on Monday, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said the use of violence will only result in more bloodshed, which will be bad for the whole country.

He also said authorities have plenty of evidence to prosecute those who instigated the violence on Saturday, before urging the media to report how security officers on the scene were treated by the anti-government protesters.

When asked if he was concerned about the censure debate’s effect on developments outside of parliament, Gen Chan-o-cha said, only political protests could harm the country right now.

Meanwhile, when asked to comment on reports that a pro-democracy group protesting the coup in Myanmar had joined forces with Thai anti-government protesters, the PM said the government will handle the issue with maximum caution, as Myanmar is Thailand’s neighbour and a fellow ASEAN member.

Separately, Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwon said authorities have always complied with the law in working to ensure the highest level of security for the public, adding they are duty-bound to take care of all sides.

Regarding the growing demand for the release of the key protest leaders, Gen Wongsuwon said the matter is up to the court to decide.

Four academics claiming to represent 255 lecturers at 31 education establishments read out a statement in front of Bangkok Remand Prison, where the protest leaders are detained, calling for their release.

The four were Prachak Kongkirati, Yukti Mukdawichit and Boonlert Wisetpreecha from Thammasat University and Puangthong Pawakrapan from Chulalongkorn University.

Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, another protest leader, on Monday announced that she will go to the Constitutional Court, the Ministry of Justice, the Criminal Court, the Royal Thai Police and the PM’s Office to read a statement demanding justice for the protesters today.

Jatuporn Promphan, chairman of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, said on a TV programme that violence was not necessary. He predicted a bloodbath on 20th February due to both sides’ inability to control the situation and third-party instigation.

President of the Medical Council of Thailand Prasit Watanapa also issued a statement to denounce the use of violence by all sides during the 13th February protest. The doctor said medical volunteers must be impartial and treat everyone equally.

He urged medical volunteers to wear a green cross symbol while at protests, instead of the Red Cross emblem.

The council’s statement came after an attack on a volunteer medic during a pro-democracy protest on Saturday night, which ended with 8 demonstrators detained and 20 wounded.

Metropolitan Police Bureau commissioner Pol Lt Gen Pakkapong Pongpetra on Sunday defended the officers, saying the medic happened to be near the scene of the clash.