Activists' hunger strike enters 10th day
Pair take water for the first time but remain very weak, as supporters' rallies continue
published : 27 Jan 2023 at 22:22
Supporters continued to gather outside the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre on Friday evening to press for judicial reforms as a hunger strike by two young political activists entered its 10th day.
Tantawan Tuatulanon and Orawan Phuphong were visited on Friday at Thammasat University Hospital by their families and a lawyer, who reported that they were still very weak.
The two young women have been refusing food, water and most medical intervention to press their demands for bail rights, the release of all political prisoners and the abolition of the lese majeste and sedition laws.
According to an update from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, the two were lying face to face in a hospital bed but were alert and happy to have visitors. They also drank one glass of water each, the first they have taken since Jan 18.
But even rudimentary procedures such as drawing blood cause considerable pain, according to TLHR. Both women have agreed to take antacids intravenously to ease severe stomach pain.
The pair told their visitors that they were glad to be at Thammasat Hospital instead of the Corrections Department Hospital. The department has stressed that the pair are still prisoners, and four corrections staffers have been posted at the room.
Ms Tantawan and Ms Orawan, who are facing royal defamation charges, went to court on Jan 16 to request the revocation of their bail as a gesture of solidarity with other detained colleagues. They began their hunger strike two days later.
Acknowledging the seriousness of the hunger strikers’ condition, six opposition parties on Thursday released a joint statement calling for authorities to seek views from all parties concerned about judicial reform. The statement also called for the bail rights of defendants in political cases to be considered fairly by the courts.
Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, the secretary-general of the Progressive Movement, said the statement was a good start. However, he said that opposition parties, including the Move Forward Party, should not downplay calls to amend or abolish the lese-majeste law.
A former key member of Future Forward, the now-dissolved predecessor of Move Forward, Mr Piyabutr expressed disappointment that the statement called for political prisoners’ right to bail without mentioning protesters’ call to abolish Section 112 of the Criminal Code, the lese majeste law.