Thai Court Denies Bail for Four Activists Over Royal Defamation

A Thai court on Tuesday denied bail to four pro-democracy activists accused of breaking the country’s lese majeste law as they led a movement that’s calling for monarchy reform.

Lawyer Arnon Nampa, student leader Parit Chiwarak and two others were detained, awaiting the court’s decision on charges brought by the police and the attorney general’s office. The court decision prompted pro-democracy groups to call for a rally in central Bangkok to press for the immediate release of the leaders.

Thai Court Denies Bail for Four Activists Over Royal Defamation

Arnon and Parit are among activists who have spearheaded a movement that’s broken long-held taboos about publicly discussing and questioning the country’s monarchy, which sits at the apex of power in Thailand. While the protests have become irregular with the country in the middle of a fresh wave of Covid-19 infections, activists have continued to call for greater democracy and the resignation of the pro-royalist government headed by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha.

Authorities have filed royal insult lawsuits against 55 activists since late November in a bid to quell the protests. Thailand’s lese majeste law is one of the harshest in the world, mandating as much as 15 years in prison for each instance of defaming, insulting or threatening the king, queen, heir apparent or regent.

“They can stop one droplet of rain, but the big storm is coming,” Arnon, who faces eight lese majeste cases, wrote in a note posted on Facebook after the court decision on Tuesday.

Arnon, along with the three activists, will likely be in jail until they are granted bail after the next application, or till the trial is completed which could take years, according to the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights group.

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