Parit Chiwarak, a student at Thammasat University charged extremely harshly for his age and nature of his charge. Participated in a non-violent demonstration and charged with insulting the monarchy and sedition. Appears he may have been tortured while confined, bail was denied, caught COVID while in prison.
August 25, 2021
Prime Minister and Minister of Defense
of the Kingdom of Thailand
Government House Pitsanulok Road,
Dusit, Bangkok 10300, Kingdom of Thailand
Fax: +375-17-226 06 10nue
Dear President Chan-o-cha:
The Committee of Concerned Scientists is an independent organization of scientists, physicians, engineers, and scholars devoted to the protection and advancement of human rights and scientific freedom for colleagues all over the world.
This communication is in regard to Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak. He participated in protests on September 19, 2020 and on August 2, 2021. His bail for charges related to the former protest, for which he was held for 92 days, was recently revoked by the Criminal Court. During this detention, he was hospitalized for the effects of his hunger strike. His bail for charges related to the latter protest, which was to protest the detention of other activists, was denied by the Thanyaburi Provincial Court. He is currently being held at Thanyaburi Prison. It appears that Chiwarak was likely assaulted and suffocated despite pleas for help during his arrest on August 9th. He had signs of physical torture, found on his body by his lawyer the next day. The charges he is facing include allegations of insulting the monarchy on social media (lèse majesté) and sedition.
Chiwarak is a 23-year old student at the Thammasat University at the Faculty of Political Science. The charges that Chiwarak is facing are extreme given his age and the nonviolent nature of the charges against him. It also appears that he has contracted COVID-19 while being in prison.
The Committee is concerned that these charges are actually retaliation for the nonviolent exercise of the right to freedom of expression and of protest and are part of a recurring pattern of arbitrary arrests against dissidents in Thailand for any potential or perceived criticism. Calling for the end of lèse majesté law should not be considered a violation of the law itself. His arrest is a setback for the future of human rights in Thailand.
We write to urge you to ensure that he is treated fairly, that he is provided with adequate medical treatment, especially given that he is an asthmatic and has contracted COVID-19, and regular access to family and independent legal representations. We further urge that whatever legal proceedings are held in his case meet international standards for fair trials, which do not include indefinite detention and arbitrarily withheld bail. If the charges are simply political in origin, he must be released immediately and unconditionally.
Thank you for your attention to this serious matter. We will be closely following developments in this case.
Joel L. Lebowitz, Paul H. Plotz, Walter Reich, Eugene M. Chudnovsky, Alexander Greer
Co-Chairs, Committee of Concerned Scientists
Antony J. Blinken
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520 USA
Phone: (202) 647-4000
H.E. Manasvi Srisodapol
Ambassador of Thailand to the United States
Royal Thai Embassy
1024 Wisconsin Avenue, NW
Washington DC, 20007
Tel: (202) 944-3600
Fax: (202) 944-3611
Ambassador of the United States to Thailand
U.S. Embassy, Bangkok
95 Wireless Road
Bangkok 10330 Thailand
H.E. Norachit Sinhaseni
Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Thailand
to the United Nations
351 East 52nd Street
New York, N.Y. 10022
Tel: (212) 754-2230
Fax: (212) 688-3029