Two of the leaders of the Thai democratic protests that criticized the ruling monarchy last year are starving and increasing their health, according to their lawyers and relatives.
Chiwarak “Penguin” pit and Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul have been refusing food rations in Bangkok prison in recent weeks in protest of a Thai court’s decision to deny bail pending trial lèse majesté and other cases.
The two are students at Thammasat University and were part of a self-defense group that called for power and wealth. King Maha Vajiralongkorn, Thai Prime Minister
The demonstrations were different from what the emperors had seen in recent years for fear of what they wanted. This bravery violated Thailand’s strict laws that protect the king and his family from criticism, including lèse majesté, who have been in prison for 15 years. Both have been in prison since February.
Parit announced his hunger on March 15 and has been refusing anything but drinks, according to Krisadang Nutcharut, one of his lawyers. “We tried to ask the court to allow him to release the bail because we think his case is so serious that he lost his life,” Krisadang told the Financial Times.
Parit was “very thin”, easily tired and could not stand up without help, he said. Defendant receives a saline drip.
“I am concerned about his health at the moment,” said Paopoom Chiwarak, the victim’s cousin. “Parit is not a really healthy person.”
Panusaya, who went on hunger strike on April 2, looks tired but “not as bad as a penguin,” says Krisadang, his adviser.
The students were arrested as part of Quick seizure on the protest leaders last year. According to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, which also advises human rights activists, there are at least 17 people incarcerated in connection with demonstrations or political participation.
“The penguin is getting weaker, and there is a lot of concern about the prison as Covid-19 has spread to the Bangkok Remand prison where he and others are being held,” June Sirikan, the group’s lawyer, told FT.
The Thai Ministry of Health reports that the health of Parit and Panusaya is monitored “daily, several times a day”, including body temperature, fluid volume and blood pressure.
He said the two students were being closely monitored on security cameras locked up 24 hours a day if they needed help, and they were preparing to take them to the emergency room.
The department did not respond to a request for bail, which it said was outside their jurisdiction.
In addition to lèse majesté, the two activists have been charged with treason and conspiracy demonstration in September at Sanam Luang, the “royal residence” in front of the Grand Palace in Bangkok. The protest was the biggest in 2020 and critics filed a banner stating that Thailand belonged to “the people, not the king, because they are cheating us”.
The protesters have been on the run for so long this year after they were arrested and severely reprimanded by police, who used water cannons, tear gas and barricades to quell protests. After stopping use lèse majesté in recent years, Thai authorities have brought a number of cases to court and prosecuted a number of cases.
Anchan Preelert, a former civil servant, was convicted in February of several counts of criminal misconduct and sentenced to more than 43 years in prison.
Sirikan said Parit “wants the world to see what is happening in Thailand – not just his case, but what is happening right now”.
He added, “He said the world should see its suffering and suffering, what has happened in government and the power that exists.”
This article has been adapted to show that Panusaya began to go hungry on April 2, not on April 5.
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