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Tantawan ‘Tawan’ Tuatulanon, and Orawan ‘Bam’ Phuphong have announced that they will continue their no food or drink protest outside Thammasat University Hospital if political detainees are not released within 3 days.

Krisadang Nutcharus gives press an interview (Image: Thaivoice News)

As reported by the Reporters, their statement was conveyed by Krisadang Nutcharus, a human rights lawyer and the two activists’ representative on 8 February, in front of the hospital ward where the two are being medically treated.

Kritsadang said the decision came after hearing about recent court decisions to turn down bail requests from activists in prison. He also said the two did not accept food and water, but still received liquids and minerals as suggested by doctors. The refusal of water and minerals would follow if detainees were to be further denied bail.

“Tawan and Bam appreciate and are grateful to the hospital for always taking care of them, but they will continue their struggle by giving up water and food in a place they see fit, and reaffirm their demands,” said the lawyer.

The two revoked their own bail on 16 January, before announcing a dry fast in prison two days later. Their demands are the release of political prisoners and reform of the judicial system so that human rights and freedom of expression take priority, and so that courts are independent and protect people’s freedom, as well as for judges to make decisions without intervention from their own executives.

They also called for all charges to be dropped against those exercising their rights to freedom of expression and assembly, and for every political party to guarantee people’s rights, freedoms, and political participation by backing the repeal of the royal defamation law and sedition law.

As their health deteriorated, they were initially admitted to the Department of Corrections Hospital but were transferred to Thammasat University Hospital on 24 January where they remained in custody.

Two other people are also hunger striking to protest the detention of activists and protesters. Sitthichok Sethasavet, 26, a food delivery rider detained pending appeal on a royal defamation charge, is also on a hunger strike to demand bail. He was also transferred to Thammasat University Hospital on 1 February.

Meanwhile, Mongkhon Thirakot, who was recently sentenced to 28 years in prison for royal defamation for a number of Facebook posts, has been on a hunger strike while sitting in front of the Ratchadaphisek Criminal Court in solidarity with Tantawan and Orawan.

On 7 February, Sopon Surariddhidhamrong, a monarchy reform activist detained pending trial, and two other activists in prison announced they would refuse food, and will also not sleep to support Tantawan and Orawan’s demands. 

On 9 February, Sitthichok announced to join the no-sleeping protest, according to the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights.

Political activism that sprung up again since the mass protest in 2020 has been quelled with many people charged for making comments or being involving in political protests, especially concerning the monarchy. 

Section 112 of the Criminal Code, also known as the royal defamation law, mandates 3-15 year jail sentences for individuals found guilty of insulting or expressing hostility against the King, Queen, Heir Apparent, and Regent.

As of 8 February, 12 people involved in the protests are in detention, 2 of them already found guilty of royal defamation. The remainder are detained pending trial for charges related to possession of explosive devices, acts of violence during protests, or royal defamation.

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