Sitthichok Settasavet, one of the prisoner under royal defamation charge is sent to the hospital following his hunger strike.

4 activists go on hunger strike, underlining reform demands

In addition to the dry fasting by activists Tantawan Tuatulanon and Orawan Phuphong, one other detainee has been on hunger strike for over a week and another has just started after being released on bail.

A protester and a campaign banner with images of the dry fasting activists in it. (Image: Ginger Cat)

Mongkhon Thirakot was given a 28 years prison sentence for royal defamation in January in a case based on his Facebook posts which related to the monarchy. 

After being released on bail, he travelled from the northern province of Chiang Rai to Bangkok in order to take part in the ongoing fasting struggles. As of writing, he is camping out at the front of Ratchadaphisek Criminal Court.

Mongkhon, in front of Ratchadapisek Court. (Image: Ginger Cat)

As of 1 February, Tantawan and Orawan on the 14th day of dry fasting while in detention, demanding reform of the justice system and the release of political prisoners. They are also calling on political parties to promote policies that ensure basic political freedoms by proposing to abolish the royal defamation and sedition law.

The two are currently in Thammasat University hospital for treatment and to have their health closely monitored. The hospital released a statement on 1 February that the two have low sodium and potassium levels, and high ketone levels due to their fasting, but have started to take in water. 

Other symptoms mentioned were scurvy, nosebleeds, stomach ache, and a sudden pains in the left chest. 

Almost in parallel to these two, Sitthichok Sethasavet, a 26-year-old food delivery rider who was found guilty of royal defamation, arson, destruction of property, and violation of the Emergency Decree for setting fire to an arch with the King and the Queen’s portraits, started a hunger strike in prison.

He started with a fast of solid foods, before going on a dry fast for another six days, also demanding bail rights. As his health deteriorated, he was sent to Thammasat University hospital on 1 February.

According to his statement via a visiting lawyer, he said the prison suddenly took him to the hospital a day after he was admitted to the Department of Corrections hospital. He also said he would join the others to campaign for bail rights if he is released.

“I’m not a campaigner. I’m not a leader. I’m just a normal person who was in the protest and got charged. A warden said that I’m just a kind of pest. But if I can do it, the country will be better,” said Sitthichok via Thai Lawyers for Human Rights.

A day earlier, Justice Minister Somsak Thepsutin went to Thammasat University hospital to visit Tantawan and Orawan. After the visit, he reportedly shed a tear before giving a press interview. He said he would discuss with lawmakers and the courts about the structural reform within the judicial system.

He urged the two to end the fast and give him time to solve the issue.


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