Protest leaders held 'in 5-star luxury'

Protest leaders held 'in 5-star luxury'

Ruling party MP rejects rights claims

Protest leaders being detained in prison are enjoying conditions akin to "a five-star hotel", says MP Sira Jenjaka of the ruling Palang Pracharath Party.

On Tuesday, Mr Sira visited the Bangkok Remand Prison (BRP), where three of the leaders -- Arnon Nampa, Jatupat "Pai" Boonpattaraksa and Panupong "Mike" Jadnok -- are being detained on charges including lese majeste. A fourth, Parit "Penguin" Chiwarak, is at the Pathum Thani Provincial Central Probation Centre.

Mr Sira paid the visit in his capacity as chairman of the House committee on law, justice process and human rights, on the instructions of its members.

He was accompanied by fellow committee member, Rangsiman Rome, a Move Forward Party MP.

He met Mr Jatupat, who he said looked to be in good health and has been kept in a cell separate from other detainees. While they were there the protest leaders received a laundry service with a fresh linen change and meals were also delivered to them.

"It's like living in a five-star hotel," Mr Sira said as he moved to allay critics' concerns of human rights abuses in prison against the protest leaders.

Mr Arnon recently complained that Mr Jatupat and Mr Panupong had been mistreated after being subject to a Covid-19 test unusually late at night.

The Criminal Court has found the wardens failed to fully protect the rights of the detained protest figures.

Yesterday, Mr Sira said the protest leaders were not able to access social media because it was against prison rules.

He and Mr Rangsiman toured every corner of the BRP.

"People who are worried shouldn't be," he said. "Let them [the protest leaders] be and don't try to get them out. They are fine where they are."

Mr Rangsiman, meanwhile, said he had a brief conversation with Mr Jatupat via a video call while at the prison before the transmission was cut off by a blackout.

He asked about Mr Jatupat's living conditions and found the protest leaders' welfare met prison standards.

Thawatchai Chaiwat, deputy director-general of the Department of Corrections and also its spokesman, denied Mr Parit was suffering serious health issues from going on a hunger strike in protest at the justice system.

He said Mr Parit was not experiencing dizzy spells, although he was tired and complained of stomach pain, for which he had been given medication.

He has refused solid food and been fed vital liquids and rehydration salt intravenously.

Mr Thawatchai rejected a request by Mr Parit's mother to refer him to a private hospital, saying if hospitalisation was required, detainees would be transferred to well-equipped prison medical facilities.

Another protest leader, Panusaya "Rung" Sithijirawattanakul, currently being held at the Central Women's Correctional Institution, also began a protest yesterday, telling officials she would skip dinner for three days.

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