Hunger striking democracy activists freed on bail

Hunger striking democracy activists freed on bail

Activists Netiporn
Activists Netiporn "Bung" Sanesangkhom (left) and Natthanit "Bai Por" Duangmusit. (Photo from @TLHR2014 Twitter account)

Two activists held on royal defamation charges were freed on bail by the Bangkok South Criminal Court on Thursday, lawyers said, after the women had gone on hunger strike for 64 days.

Natthanit "Bai Por" Duangmusit, 20, and Netiporn "Bung" Sanesangkhom, 26, members of Thaluwang, a pro-democracy group that advocates reform of the monarchy, were both extremely weak, human rights lawyer Krisadang Nutcharus told AFP.

The pair had been in custody for more than three months, awaiting trial under the kingdom's lese majeste laws.

"Their condition is not well," said Mr Krisadang.

Footage showed them being taken from the Central Women Correctional Instituetion in an ambulance.

"They have not been given guilty verdicts," the lawyer said.

Thailand's lese majeste laws have long drawn criticism from human rights activists, who say they are overly broad and misused to suppress debate.

Use of the legislation slowed for several years, but picked up again when youth-led street protests sprung up in 2020, calling for democratic change and reforms to the monarchy.

More than 200 lese majeste cases have been brought since November 2020, according to the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights group.

Conviction under the royal defamation law carries a jail term of up to 15 years. Some activists face multiple charges that could result in consecutive sentences lasting for decades.


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