Activists have set up a group to provide financial support to "political" prisoners as signs of repression have yet to subside two years since the coup.
"We do not expect to come up with a permanent form of assistance but there seems no end to people being jailed for their political dissent," said Piyarat Chongthep, president of the For Friends Association (FFA) Thailand.
The group's founders agreed there must be some sort of platform to arrange help for those behind bars and their families.
"The military is likely to remain in power longer than we wish. So we have to channel assistance to those falling victim to repression in a more systematic fashion," said the 25-year-old Piyarat, also a former student activist who graduated with an engineering degree from King Mongkut's University of Technology North Bangkok.
FFA Thailand was announced in the Royal Gazette as a legal entity on March 30. The 10 board members are mostly former prisoners of conscience and human rights lawyers. "We have separated the administrative budget from financial support to individual detainees," said Mr Piyarat, adding some 150,000 baht, raised from donations, was set aside to help some 20 people arrested under security laws.
Aekachai Hongkangwan, 41, a former lese majeste prisoner, said the authorities had placed restrictions on relatives and friends visiting political prisoners, while prison conditions have not really improved. "The situation of lese majeste prisoners under elected governments was not better but now there are more of them being sent to prisons on a weekly if not daily basis," said Mr Aekachai, who was jailed for two years and eight months.
Hygiene conditions were particularly bad, he said. "We [the group] were there before, and understand the situation and the needs of those inside, and how to communicate with officials, so we think our presence is a timely mechanism for the families of the political prisoners," said Mr Aekachai.
Let help Thai political prisoners
very good doing