Thai court orders release of prominent anti-government activists

Anon Nampa and Panupong Jadnok, two of the leaders of recent anti-government protests, are seen after being granted a bail outside the criminal court in Bangkok, Thailand.

Two prominent Thai activists arrested last month for their roles in anti-government rallies were released on Monday after spending five days in prison for bail breaches, after police told a court there was no grounds to detain them.

Human Rights lawyer Anon Nampa, 36, and student activist Panupong Jadnok, 24, were sent to a Bangkok remand prison last week when a court ruled their recent political activities were against their bail conditions, which the pair rejected.

But police from the precinct that initially arrested the pair revoked the detention request, saying an investigation into their conduct while on bail showed there was no need to hold them, a Criminal Court statement said on Monday.

“The court considered this and issued an order for their release,” it said.

Both have participated in near-daily protests in the past two months to demand the military steps back from politics and the removal of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who first came to power in a 2014 coup.

Prayuth last month begged protesters “not to create chaos” and said problems can he solved together.

Panupong and Anon have been arrested several times and were among more than a dozen protesters charged recently with inciting unrest and breaching coronavirus-related regulations banning gatherings.

“This is a good lesson to those wielding powers in this country that their use of power must be just,” Anon told reporters.

Asked if concerned about mounting cases against him, Anon said: “Not at all, to catch a fish it’s normal to get wet”.

Panupong said their fight would continue.

“They can only lock us up physically but they cannot lock out our ideals and our fighting spirit,” he said.

Anon is also among several activists who made a bold public call for reform of the monarchy, until recently a taboo issue in Thailand.

A student group plans a major protest on September 19 and Anon said he and Panupong “will certainly participate”.

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