Woman flee’s over prison fears after mocking Thai PM


Woman flee’s over prison fears after mocking Thai PM

Thai prison was hell for Nuttigar Woratunyawit. The freelance digital marketer was placed behind bars in 2016 when her contribution to a satirical Facebook page brought plainclothes security forces to her door and an irreversible turn to her life.

“The conditions inside the prison were terrible. It was dirty, full of germs and unsanitary. … Some prisoners take anti-depressants, some ram their heads against the wall. Others suffer from dementia. It’s like hell. But I couldn’t tell my mother because I didn’t want her to suffer.”

Nuttigar may not be a household name, but the 44-year-old was behind a popular Facebook page which mocked the dictator-prime minister. She became known as one of the “Facebook 8” after being abducted by the military and held for some time without charge.

What many of her associates do not know is that today she is a fugitive in exile in the United States, where time is running out on her bid for asylum.

“After I left, many were worried. I don’t want to hide the fact that I’m no longer in Thailand,” said Nuttigar, who had worked as a freelance digital marketer until months in jail and uncertainty in the justice system convinced her she was better off leaving her homeland.

Nuttigar Woratunyawit escorted to prison April 29, 2016, after bail was denied by a military court in Bangkok.
Nuttigar Woratunyawit escorted to prison April 29,
2016, after bail was denied by a military court
in Bangkok.
“It’s not just about fear, but it affects everyone in Thailand,” she said. “And [for me], made it impossible to continue with life.”

In an interview, Nuttigar revisited the day in April 2016 when she was among those abducted in coordinated dawn raids at eight spots around the nation, a move she attributes to Prayuth’s inability to handle satire. The government accused them of being paid propagandists.

Breaking her silence five months after fleeing charges of sedition, defaming the monarchy and violating the Computer Crime Act, Nuttigar said she wanted to tell her story.

It was 6am on Wednesday, April 27, 2016, when 20-plus plainclothes soldiers and police raided the home where she lived with her mother.

Nuttigar said the men called her neighbors to come and see her being arrested to try and shame her. She said the only thing she and the others had done was dare mock Prayuth on Facebook.

Their arrest prompted a rare public protest at Bangkok’s Victory Monument that saw 16 people arrested.

Photo: Nuttigar Woratunyawit
Photo: Nuttigar Woratunyawit
Speaking by phone this week from somewhere on the West Coast of the United States, Nuttigar said fleeing was difficult – but better than prison.

Two days after being taken from her home in a hood to be interrogated and charged, Nuttigar was put in prison. But not before police and soldiers pressured her to hand over passwords to the “We Love Gen. Prayuth” page that lampooned Prayuth with memes and unflattering images manipulated in Photoshop.

“I didn’t think I had any choice,” she said.

They also wrote into her case that she likely knew Panthongtae Shinawatra, the son of junta political nemesis Thaksin Shinawatra, despite her repeated denials.

Nuttigar did not do well in prison. As the weeks turned to months behind bars without expectation of bail, she would tell her mother that she would commit suicide in protest rather than remain in prison indefinitely.

“She said if I died, she would die too,” said Nuttigar, describing her octogenarian mother as having lost much of her weight and mentally stressed by her imprisonment. Her late father was a mid-ranking police officer and her remaining family consisted of her mother and two brothers.

Nuttigar’s thinking eventually led her to make a difficult decision: She would flee.

When Nuttigar was granted bail after 71 days, she fully expected to be convicted by the military tribunal which would hear her case and spend 20 years behind bars. She then faced breaking the news to her mother.

“At least we can see each other’s faces through a lens instead of through prison bars,” she said, crying, of being so far from home.

It took awhile for her to follow through. But a year later, after gathering information and making plans, Nuttigar secured a new passport and tourist visa to the United States last year.

She asked the military court for permission to travel to Singapore. With a ticket getting her to Changi Airport, she then flew to Los Angeles, where she arrived Aug. 18.

It’s been nearly five months since Nuttigar quietly fled. Some activists have criticized her for jumping bail, saying it would make it more difficult for others to win temporary freedom or permission to travel abroad.

“I always wonder if I am selfish or not. But if I stayed in Thailand, I have a phobia about going to court. I felt depressed. I couldn’t continue with life. Anyone who has been imprisoned carries something in their hearts. … Those who had never faced the experience don’t know how severe it is.”

At present, Nuttigar works at a restaurant where she earns USD$14 an hour. Her six-month visa expires soon and she has few weeks left to be granted political asylum.

Although she wants to make things work, it’s not an outcome she ever wanted.

“It’s not easy deciding to leave for abroad, to leave the family behind,” she said. “I don’t think I’ll get a chance to return to Thailand in my lifetime.”

  • Charles Baht Trump

    The english meat headed 25 baht cheap charlie chang swirliers are causing so many problems for THailand that they must be banned.

    The government is spending too much time chasing down the murderous pedos that there is no time to govern the country.

    This lady must have been married to an english meat headed pom in order for the plainclothes police to show concern.

    Her biggest mistake was dating a swirlier.

    • Charles Baht Esquire.

      The Good folk of the Thai authorities have to direct most of their valuable resources on these lawless , murdering , meat head , drunkard , bar rampage brawling Poms . They should be made to pay for the services and wasting there time a cheaper senario would be to bot the fat slobs out on their fat knuckle heads.

      • Charles baht is a pedo

        I suggest when next save up enough money from your benefit cheque to come to Thailand, to keep looking over your shoulder because the authorities are clamping down on known paedophiles and your name is on the list

        • Charles Baht Esquire.

          Sounds like a pedo Pom in fear of the authorities aren’t you sick sh*t Pom writing blogs trying to relay it on others won’t save you we know where you Brits congregate in the cheap Charlie underage bar staff beer bars for the purpose of your know pedophila activities . Why the Coward Brithish authorities let you Pedro Poms off the rhubarb rock and into Thailand is beyond belief .

          • Charles baht is a pedo

            You seem a bit nervous when paedophiles are mentioned. I urge the authorities to look into this pedos ip address and check him and his computer out because it will be full of kiddie porn

          • Charles Baht Esquire.

            Your fooling nobody everybody knows you Poms are the pedos of Thailand if not the world just read the news or check out the Thai jails you sick sh*ts top the list there your just worried like hell that my relentless campaign exposing you poor pedo Poms in Thailand is finally gathering pace and you have good reason too after all the video footage we have on you pedo Poms in your cheap Charlie beer out of sight bars. Well shifty sh*t .

  • Sly

    A mass of whiners in the UK publically threatened to leave if the Brexit vote won and similar rabble in the US promised to leave if Trump got elected. If the UK and US take the likes of this lady and the former Thai PM then we should have the right to deport those that disavowed their citizenship yet have clearly failed to leave to African countries . After all they are the same people saying they are really good and not “sh!tty countries”. Swapping people that want democracy for those that don’t seems like a fair trade to me.

    • soidog

      I wonder how many that decry Donald’s description would drink the water in these kharzis?
      These Africans are still begging after a hundred years!

      • Sly

        Even they know these are “sh!tty countries” but their their twisted PC ideology makes this impossible to say.

      • Charles Baht Esquire.

        Well they should improve there sewage systems and use trash bins that will help to clean up there act . The great man President and commander and Chief Trump got it wrong the turd hole country he was supposed to mention was your little parsnip rock island inhabited by welfare lazy fat drunkard strange looking people with no necks and meat heads sitting on bar stools all day and night swirling beer until they pass out.

  • soidog

    79 days..it’s like Papillon….