Hunger strikers' supporters to rally on Thursday

Hunger strikers' supporters to rally on Thursday

Pair meet with lawyer in hospital and insist they will persevere until demands are met

Tantawan “Tawan” Tuatulanon (right) and Orawan “Bam” Phuphong are seen prior to a court appearance on Jan 16 where they asked for their bail to be revoked as a protest against pretrial detention of political activists such as themselves. Two days later they began a hunger strike. (Photo: Thai Lawyers for Human Rights)
Tantawan “Tawan” Tuatulanon (right) and Orawan “Bam” Phuphong are seen prior to a court appearance on Jan 16 where they asked for their bail to be revoked as a protest against pretrial detention of political activists such as themselves. Two days later they began a hunger strike. (Photo: Thai Lawyers for Human Rights)

Supporters of two hunger-striking political activists plan to rally again on Thursday at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre to draw attention to their deteriorating condition and their demands for reform.

Tantawan Tuatulanon and Orawan Phuphong insist they will continue the hunger strike until authorities meet three demands: reform of the justice system, an end to prosecution of those exercising freedom of expression, and political support by every party for the repeal of the lese majeste and sedition laws under which dozens of activists have been charged. 

The two young women began their hunger strike in prison on Jan 18, refusing food as well as water, and were admitted to the Department of Corrections Hospital two days later. On Tuesday evening they were transferred to Thammasat University Hospital.

A representative of Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) visited the pair at Thammasat University Hospital on Wednesday afternoon and discussed their health with attending physicians.

Both women have lost more than five kilogrammes since their hunger strike began. According to TLHR, they confirmed to the visiting lawyer that they were aware of the seriousness of their condition. They are continuing to refuse food and water as well as hospital treatments. A major medical concern at the moment is low potassium levels, which could lead to heart failure unless minerals are administered.

Lawyer Arnon Nampha called for a large turnout on Thursday from 5pm to 7.30pm at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre to press demands for the release of political prisoners.

The centre in Pahthumwan district has been the site of daily gatherings where supporters hold signs, read books and express solidarity with the activists.

On Wednesday a “car mob” also made its way from Democracy Monument to the Ratchadaphisek Criminal Court. There they presented documents detailing the hunger strikers’ demands to a court representative.

Opposition political parties have also weighed in, expressing hope that a resolution can be found before the two prisoners’ health worsens irrevocably.

Julapan Amornwiwat, a vice-president of the Pheu Thai Party, said his party was monitoring the situation closely.

He urged the government to peacefully engage with protesters and release all political detainees. He also emphasised that Pheu Thai and other opposition parties support bail rights.

Pita Limjaroenrat, leader of the Move Forward Party, visited Ms Tantawan and Ms Orawan in hospital on Tuesday. He said their spirits were healthy but their bodies were not.

Ms Tantawan and Ms Orawan, who face charges of lese majeste for circulating questionnaires about royal motorcades, went to court on Jan 16 to have their bail revoked. They were taken to the Women’s Central Correctional Institution, where they said they would begin a hunger strike within three days if their demands were not met.


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