Jailed activist weakened by hunger strike dies

Netiporn ‘Boong’ Sanesangkhom, a judge’s daughter and tutor turned political activist, died on Tuesday at Thammasat University Hospital from the effects of a prolonged hunger strike. (Photo: Talu Wang Facebook Page)
Netiporn ‘Boong’ Sanesangkhom, a judge’s daughter and tutor turned political activist, died on Tuesday at Thammasat University Hospital from the effects of a prolonged hunger strike. (Photo: Talu Wang Facebook Page)

Jailed activist Netiporn “Boong” Sanesangkhom, 28, was pronounced dead at Thammasat University Hospital late Tuesday morning, over three months after she had started a dry hunger strike.

Netiporn, a core leader of the Thalu Wang protest group, had been imprisoned at the Central Women’s Correctional Institution in Chatuchak district since Jan 26 in connection with a charge of lese-majeste.

She had been sentenced to one month behind bars in connection with a protest that turned into a scuffle with guards outside the Bangkok South Criminal Court on Oct 19, 2023. She and others had gone there to show support for another activist sentenced to jail for royal defamation.

The lese-majeste charge the former tutor was facing came from her participation in an opinion survey on royal motorcades in February 2022.

The day after she was sent to prison, Netiporn began a hunger strike to demand reform of the justice system and an end to the imprisonment of people for political cases.

As she refused food and water, as well as most medication and medical intervention, her condition gradually deteriorated.

According to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), Netiporn was taken to the prison hospital in early April.

Netiporn had a heart attack at the Central Correctional Hospital just after 6am on Tuesday, the department said. She was pronounced dead at 11.22am.

Nattawut Saikuar, a former co-leader of the red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, called for the release of other detained youth activists.

“No one should die because they think differently,” he said.

“Deaths like this wouldn’t have happened if the government had tried to do more and be more sincere,” said Lisa Nunarnan, a Move Forward MP and deputy spokesperson.

Two colleagues of Netiporn are also continuing with their hunger strikes.

They face a charge of sedition arising from an incident on Feb 4 during a royal motorcade.

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Vocabulary

  • activist: someone who takes part in activities that are intended to achieve political or social change, especially someone who is a member of an organisation - นักกิจกรรม
  • defamation: the offence of writing or saying something bad about someone that is not true and makes people have a bad opinion of them - การใส่ร้าย
  • detained: kept in a place and not allowed to leave - กักตัว ควบคุมตัวหรือฝากขัง
  • deteriorate: to become worse - เลวร้ายลง
  • hunger strike: a refusal to eat by a person or group of people until a demand is met - การอดอาหารประท้วง
  • lese-majeste (adj): the crime of offending, threatening or showing disrespect for a member of the royal family - หมิ่นพระบรมเดชานุภาพ
  • motorcade: a group of cars traveling with someone very important - ขบวนรถ
  • participation: to take part in or become involved in an activity - การมีส่วน
  • pronounced dead: officially confirmed to have died -
  • protest: a meeting or rally, sometimes forceful or violent, of people who strongly disagree with something - ชุมนุมประท้วง
  • reform: a change that is intended to correct a situation that is wrong or unfair - การแก้ไข การปฏิรูป
  • scuffle: a short and sudden fight, especially one involving a small number of people - การต่อสู้กันอุตลุด
  • sedition: fighting against the government; rebellion, revolt, revolution, agitation - การปลุกระดมฝูงชนให้ต่อต้านรัฐบาล, การช่วยก่อความไม่สงบ, คำพูดปลุกระดม, การสนับสนุนพวกกบฏ
  • sentence : (of a court of law) to give a punishment - ลงโทษ
  • survey: the act of asking for and recording information - การสำรวจ, การหาข้อมูล
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