Four members of the hardcore protest group Thalu Gas were released on bail on Friday evening, as two women seeking freedom for all political detainees entered the 31st day of their hunger strike.
Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), which represents dozens of anti-government protesters and political detainees charged over the past three years, said the young men were released on bail of 70,000 baht each and ordered to wear electronic monitoring bracelets.
The Thalu Gas members had spent more than 240 days in pre-trial detention, TLHR said.
On learning of their release, the foursome expressed thanks to hunger strikers Tantawan “Tawan” Tuatulanon and Orawan “Bam” Phuphong, who have led the campaign in support of bail rights for political prisoners.
The two young women, who are facing charges of royal defamation, were themselves granted bail earlier but declined to accept it. They have said they will continue their fast until all detained activists are released.
With the release of the Thalu Gas members, four detainees remain in Bangkok Remand Prison. Among them is Sophon Suraritthamrong, who has been refusing to sleep for 10 days.
A lawyer who visited Mr Sophon on Thursday said he had noticeably blurred vision and dark circles under his eyes. “His eyes seem to wander, he is slow to react and his balance is not stable. … His hands tremble a lot.”
Mr Sophon has been detained since Jan 9 after the Criminal Court withdrew his bail in a royal defamation case, saying he violated the conditions because he participated in protests during the Apec summit in Bangkok in November. He has told his lawyers that he does not want to apply for bail until all of his peers have been released.
Ms Tantawan and Ms Orawan, meanwhile, remain in Thammasat University Hospital in serious condition. They continue to refuse food but are taking water and intravenous administration of vitamins and minerals.
A lawyer who visited Ms Tantawan and Ms Orawan on Thursday said both were weak, occasionally dizzy and slow to react. Doctors continue to express concern about their potassium levels, which could lead to heart failure. The women subsequently agreed to accept some potassium treatments to stabilise their condition.
Despite their weakness, they reportedly told their lawyer that they were happy to hear that four more of their friends were to be released.
Ms Tantawan, 21, and Ms Orawan, 23, are facing 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 hunger strikers are demanding the right to bail, the release of all political prisoners and the abolition of the lese-majeste and sedition laws.
The four young men freed on Friday were accused of setting fire to a police car during a protest on June 11, 2022. After marching from the Democracy Monument to Victory Monument, some protesters went to the Din Daeng intersection and attempted to march to the 1st Infantry Regiment, where Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha lives. They clashed with riot police on the way, and a parked police truck was set alight.
Lawyers had requested bail for them 18 times — the most of all political prisoners in 2022, according to TLHR.
As of the end of January, 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. A summons was issued this week for a 14-year-old girl to answer a charge of royal defamation, according to TLHR.