Hunger strikers moved to Thammasat Hospital

Hunger strikers moved to Thammasat Hospital

Two young political activists weak after refusing food and water for seven days

Two hunger-striking political activists were transferred on Tuesday evening to Thammasat University Hospital as their condition worsened on their seventh day without food or water.

The Department of Corrections agreed to the transfer of Tantawan Tuatulanon and Orawan Phuphong from its own hospital, according to local reports.

The two young women were detained at the Central Women’s Correctional Institution on Jan 16, after appearing in court to revoke their own bail. They said they did so to demand the release on bail of other activists, as well as judicial and legal reforms, including revocation of the lese majeste (royal defamation) and sedition laws.

On Jan 18 they began a “dry” hunger strike — refusing both food and water — to protest against what they considered to be unjust pretrial detention of critics of the monarchy. On Friday they collapsed and were taken to the Corrections Department Hospital where they were kept until late Tuesday.

Small scattered demonstrations have been held in support of the pair and their detained colleagues, including a “Stand Against Detention” event outside the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre. Pathumwan police on Tuesday afternoon asked the group to disperse, saying the activity was unlawful, but people continued to mill about and organisers said they intended to stay until Thursday.

Ms Tantawan last year staged a hunger strike for 37 days before being released on bail in May. She was arrested on March 5 last year on charges of violating Section 112 for running an opinion poll on Facebook on royal motorcades and making a live broadcast on the topic.

According to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), 16 people are now being held in detention pending trial or appeal on charges related to their participation in the pro-democracy movement, eight of them on royal defamation charges.

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