Health fears growing for held activist

Health fears growing for held activist

The Save Bang Kloi Coalition yesterday filed a petition with the National Human Rights Commission demanding an investigation into how a Karen rights activist contracted Covid-19 while imprisoned.

The petition said activist Chartchai Kaedam is one among many political prisoners infected with Covid-19.

However, he is not a criminal and should be allowed bail, especially given his health condition, it said.

"Moreover, bringing innocent people into a contagious environment such as a prison during a deadly virus outbreak violates their rights," the petition said.

"They should have a right to seek a place for medical treatment," it said.

"We would like the National Human Rights Commission to take action by investigating the case of Mr Chartchai's illness, as well as other political activists that are suffering from Covid-19 infections."

The group insisted the investigation be done immediately and that recommendations for preventive measures against rights violations be made, including victim rehabilitation.

Mr Chartchai surrendered to police on Aug 9 on charges of violating the emergency decree and Communicable Disease Act in connection with his activism related to the Kaeng Krachan Forest Complex.

The Thanyaburi Court rejected Mr Chartchai's request for bail, and he was found to be infected with Covid-19 at the end of last month.

He now suffers from high blood pressure and has had difficulty breathing.

Mr Chartchai reportedly shares an oxygen tank with other ill prisoners.

The human rights commissioner, Sayamol Kraiyoorawong, said the office is concerned about Mr Chartchai and has taken steps to address the situation.

Ms Sayamol said staff have made some "unofficial" attempts to get information from the Department of Corrections about his condition and treatment.

"Under the Covid-19 crisis, we have not been allowed access to the prison to see people," she said.

"What we can do is have an online meeting with all stakeholders, including Mr Chartchai's relatives to find a resolution for his case," she added. No further details were available.

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