Two hunger strikers were granted bail on Tuesday on grounds that their health was in serious danger, but the application of a third was rejected.
As well, the Criminal Court rejected the bail requests of eight other political detainees, whose release the hunger strikers have been seeking. It rejected four requests outright and ordered four other cases to be investigated, with probation officers to submit reports within 15 days.
The eight are from the Thalu Gas protest group and some face serious charges related to explosives, the court noted. Their lawyers maintain that their clients mainly had firecrackers and ping-pong bombs.
Tantawan “Tawan” Tuatulanon and Orawan “Bam” Phuphong had not applied for bail, as their position has been to secure the release of their colleagues first. But Thammasat University Hospital, where they are being treated, submitted the application on their behalf, saying they were in critical condition.
“If held in detention the plaintiffs could lose their lives,” said a court statement.
When informed of the news by their lawyers, the two said they were not even aware that any application had been made, and were still deciding whether to accept their release.
The two women have been refusing all food since Jan 18, and taking only small amounts of water. However, on Monday night they agreed to accept intravenous supplements.
Krisadang Nutcharat, their lawyer, said a doctor told him there was a chance the pair “wouldn’t make it through the night” if nothing was done. The doctor, their parents and lawyer asked them to consider the IV treatment and they agreed, he said.
Also in Thammasat University Hospital and fasting is Sitthichok Sethasavet, whose application for bail was rejected on Tuesday by the Court of Appeal. He has already been convicted of lese majeste and other charges but he denies them and is appealing. He is drinking water and milk, but on Monday he stopped taking both oral and intravenous vitamins, his lawyer said.
The court said it saw “no reason to change the original order” regarding Sitthichok’s bail.
Ms Tantawan, 21, and Ms Orawan, 23, are facing royal defamation charges under Section 112 of the Criminal Code for taking a public poll last year about royal motorcades.
They went to court on Jan 16 to request the revocation of their bail as a gesture of solidarity with other detained colleagues. They began their hunger strike two days later
The three hunger strikers are demanding the right to bail, the release of all political prisoners and the abolition of the lese majeste and sedition laws.
As of the end of January, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) said it had recorded 1,890 people prosecuted for political participation and expression since the beginning of the Free Youth pro-democracy protests in July 2020. At least 228 are facing lese majeste (royal defamation) charges and 128 have been charged with sedition.
Of all the people charged, 284 are aged 15 to 18 years and 41 are under 15 years old.
The longest detention period that the group knows of reached 300 days as of Saturday for two men.
Sunai Phasuk, a researcher with Human Rights Watch, said on Monday that the lives of Ms Tantawan and Ms Orawan were “hanging by a thread”.
“It is heart-wrenching to see two young women having to risk it all to demand free speech in Thailand, as well as respect for basic fair trial standards for political detainees such presumption of innocence and right to bail,” he told AFP.