'Ja New' assaulted again, sent to ICU

'Ja New' assaulted again, sent to ICU

Four men with baseball bats attack anti-coup activist near home on eve of planned pro-democracy rally

Sirawith "Ja New" Seritiwat is seriously injured in the second attack in one month against the political activist. (Photo from @NuttaaBow Twitter account)

Political activist Sirawith "Ja New" Seritiwat is in a hospital intensive care unit after being attacked and beaten with baseball bats by four men in the second such violent assault he has suffered in less than a month.

Nuttaa Mahattana, another anti-coup campaigner, and the Democracy Restoration Group, posted a report on Facebook on Friday, saying the attack taking place at around 11am near Mr Sirawith’s house in Klong Sam Wa district of Bangkok.

He was admitted to the ICU of Navamin 1 Hospital, where a brain scan showed no haemorrhaging and that he was conscious but could not respond. His external injuries included an orbital fracture, bleeding in the eyes and a broken nose.

“The doctor says they are concerned about his eyes because of the impact on the optic nerve,” Sirawith’s mother, Patnaraee Charnkit, told reporters.

“His eyes are open but he is unresponsive.”

Ms Patnaree gave information to Pol Capt Chatphol Phenphone, a deputy superintendent of Min Buri police station, and gave investigators the clothes her son was wearing during the attack as evidence.

She also filed a complaint with the police, who say they still need the account from Mr Sirawith as part of their investigation.

Anon Nampa, a lawyer representing pro-democracy activists including “Ja New”, said Mr Sirawith was struck on the head with baseball bats and batons at the mouth of Ram Soi Intra 109. Taxi motorcyclists in the area gave him first aid while he was waiting for an ambulance.

It was the second assault against him in less than a month. On June 2, he was attacked by a group of men while walking on Ratchadaphisek Road after staging a protest calling on senators not to vote for Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

Police have not been able to find the attackers.

Ms Nuttaa said Mr Sirawith told her that he sensed he was being shadowed on Thursday night.

The latest assault came one day before he was to attend another event to promote democracy on Saturday at the Oct 14 Memorial on Ratchadamnoen Avenue.

Mr Sirawith, 27, was scheduled to leave for Pune, India to pursue a post-graduate political science degree on a scholarship in a few days. He made a Facebook post on Tuesday showng himself preparing for the trip.

No arrests have been made in the June 2 attack on Mr Sirawith, one of a handful of activists who have been singled out for their outspoken opposition to the military regime in recent months.

Ekachai Hongkangwan, who has made street theatre out of the watch scandal surrounding Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, has been physically attacked seven times since the start of last year. He says he has also received death threats.

According to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, one culprit who assaulted the activist twice early last year was arrested and released after paying a fine. The other attacks remain unsolved.

Also unsolved are two attacks on anti-coup activist Anurak Jeantawanich this year. 

Rights groups say there have been seven violent attacks in all on activists since a March 24 election.

“What we’re seeing is a pattern,” Sunai Phasuk, senior Thai researcher for Human Rights Watch, told Reuters.

“It shows that after the election, Thailand remains in a climate of fear and the country is not on a path towards a return to democratic rule.”

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