Tom asked me to me to publicize how awful the conditions
a Bangkok jail. "Not for me," he said, "but for them." - editor
Tom Keyes is a novelist, poet and classical guitarist. He has been in jail in Thailand for nine months now because he was in the company of a Thai woman who wanted to go to Japan - she had a fake passport.
Tom's first appearance before a judge was July 25 at which time his bail was set at approximately $6,000 (because of money exchange, editor is not sure of exact amount). It took 2 months for us to collect $2,000 and we have little hope of collecting more...
Tom has a friend, John Fain who has been able to visit Tom and he sends us Tom's wishes...that we relay the news of the subhuman treatment of prisoners in Thailand.
letter from Bankok jail:
Howdy from the most despicable, filthy hell-hole you can imagine! Conditions here are unfit for human beings...the constant noise, bugs, guard harassment....I have no hope for release or equitable justice without several thousand dollars. It is a sad fact that the Thai justice system is thoroughly corrupt.
You know how much I loved Thailand and its people and the long months of sacrifice so I could return, so you can understand my shock to find how they treat their own sons and daughters. I might have expected concentration camp mentality and conditions in Russia or China, but it's unbelievable that Thailand (the land of smiles) could be so uncaring of basic human needs and simple dignity, not to mention a justice system where the police and prosecutors enjoy all the advantages. Unlike the Good Ol' USA, one arrested here is ASSUMED TO BE GUILTY, and must prove himself innocent. No one is provided a public defender in ordinary cases - hearsay may be considered evidence, there are NEVER JURY TRIALS, so the defendant is at the mercy of corrupt and merciless prosecutors and judges; you may be tried again and again for the same crime, even after an INNOCENT verdict has been given in the first trial! Even now, another prisoner tells me that he is being held for trial again though he has already served his sentence after his first conviction. No wonder Thai prisons are all overcrowded.
They keep crowding new inmates into this place, mostly drug cases. I think Thailand is making the same mistake as America - putting people in jail instead of dealing with the social problems. But the big difference is that Thailand won't spend any money to build new facilities or improve the old ones. It's incredible and disgraceful, but when the situation finally explodes (and it will) the upper classes will find egg all over their smiling faces. You can't consign a whole generation to prison and a hopeless existence without bringing chaos and revolution to follow.
If I'm given a long prison sentence I will start a hunger strike to protest these savage conditions of their prisoners. I know I can't endure for many months in any Bankok prison. Death is nothing to be feared but rather hoped for when compared to this living nightmare.
No matter what happens to me, Summer, keep up your good work. If I make it out we'll have a good talkfest someday - if I don't, please publish what you can of the material I have left behind.
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