The ICEM asks its members to support Somyot
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Free Somyot NOW! Unionists Urged to Send Letters Demanding Thai Justice!
The campaign to free Somyot Pruksakasemsuk, long-time Thai campaigner for labour rights, is growing as the one-year anniversary of his arrest approaches. Somyot is being held in prison only on remand, facing unproven charges of lèse majesté, or daring to “defame, insult, or threaten” the King Bhumipol Adulyadej of Thailand.”
Brother Somyot, a former ICEM Thailand Coordinator, must be freed immediately and unconditionally, states the ICEM.
The disgraceful detention and persecution of Somyot is based on two articles published in the journal Voice of Thaksin, but Somyot was not the author of either piece in question and, in fact, the articles do not threaten or insult the king. Brother Somyot was the acting editor of the publication, but was not the legal publisher.
Indisputably, Somyot is incarcerated purely for his trade union and left-leaning political activism. For those reasons, he also is not receiving a fair judicial process with violations that include hearings being relocated to distant provinces so that key defence witnesses cannot participate.
Brother Somyot has been held in inhumane conditions in jail, where cells are overcrowded to the extreme. Through his transfers to distant judicial hearings, Somyot has been transported standing over 4,000 kilometres in a cage on the back of a truck and bound by heavy chains.
This unacceptable treatment has moved supporters to push hard for Somyot to be released on bail, but the courts have refused such petitions on eight occasions on the grounds that he would flee Thailand, or interfere with witnesses while on bail. Somyot is 50 and suffers from bad health, reasons why he should be released on humanitarian grounds.
The ICEM joins the large international coalition in condemning the continuing use of the “lèse majesté law” to crack down on legitimate protest in Thailand. The archaic legislation allows for harsh punishment for freedom of expression, an internationally recognised fundamental human right. Brother Somyot faces up to 15 years in prison for each of the two articles, if found guilty.
Send your protest to firstname.lastname@example.org. Use the model letter found here.
A new trial of Somyot begins today, with prosecution witness hearings every day until 26 April, and defence witness hearings 1-4 May.
See more on the Free Somyot campaign website here.
Another labour and human rights defender is also in detention on non-credible charges. Brother Sirichai Mai-ngam of Thailand also has ICEM’s full support.
The ICEM Asia-Pacific Regional Conference resolved last week for the ICEM to launch campaigns supporting the two activists in Thailand so that they are released with all charges dropped.