By Pravit Rojanaphruk
The country's first Network of Family Members and People Affected by the Lese Majeste Law was launched yesterday with 10 members who are either family of detainees charged with lese majeste or former prisoners convicted of lese majeste.
Sukanya Prueksakasemsuk, wife of detainee Somyos and a co-coordinator of the group, told a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents Club that the network was formed to fight for the rights of those in custody and in jail.
It will seek bail for those charged under the lese majeste law, for the quick and unconditional release of prisoners and for a guarantee and protection of prisoners’ fundamental rights, including access to medical care and the right to be free from torture.
The network will also strive to heal the trauma suffered by some detainees and their relatives.
Keechiang Thaweewarodomkul, father of Tantawut, known as “Nor Por Chor USA”, who was sentenced to 13 years in prison, said some family members who share the same family name with Tantawut are also under severe social pressure.
Having the same family name with a lese majeste detainee is “worse” than sharing a family name with convicted murderers.
“It was as if my son was a hardened criminal,” Keechiang said.
Sukanya urged some who were accused of lese majeste and had fled overseas to become active members of the network and fight for other prisoners’ rights.
The network aims to make society aware and recognise the problem of the lese majeste law and the detainees under the law but is primarily intended as a “self-help” group, she said.
Pranee Danwattananusorn, the other network co-coordinator and wife of prisoner Surachai “Surachai Sae Darn”, said that in the case of another detainee, Darunee “Da Torpedo” Charnchoengsil-pakul, whenever visitors wished to see her, Darunee would be asked by prison guards to guess the name of the visitor and if she was wrong, she would not be allowed to see the visitor.
Prisoners also cannot buy postage stamps because they are not available and writing paper for sale in prison only contain 15 lines per sheet, Pranee said.
The network will host a symposium to introduce itself to the public tomorrow afternoon at the October 14 Memorial Foundation.