Demonstrators at the Supreme Court and a sunflower, a symbol for Tantawan Tuatulanon. (Photo: Ginger Cat)

Hunger strikers to continue protest despite being threatened

Photos: Ginger Cat

On 26 February, Tantawan Tuatulanon and Orawan Phuphong, two activists who spent the previous evening protesting in front of the Supreme Court, declared they would continue staging their hunger strike there.

Krisadang Nutcharas (middle)

Their message was delivered by Krisadang Nutcharas, Tantawan and Orawans lawyer. The two left Thammasat hospital after being treated for almost a month while conducting a fast to demand bail rights for political prisoners and reform of the judicial system.

Krisadang said that as the two have been on hunger strike for over 30 days, they risk infection by protesting on the street. Despite doctors advising them to remain in a well-equipped hospital, they insist on continuing.

Sunday was Tantawan and Orawans third day protesting outside the confines of prison and the hospital.  They withdrew their bail requests late last January and shortly after, announced that they would go on a month-long fast.

Demonstrators with banners calling for release of political dissidents and questioning the royal defamation law.

Their three nights out have not been easy. Krisadang said the two received threatening phone calls, were photographed by plainclothes police, and were disturbed by motorcycle riders wearing outfits of a group that opposed them. Their request for a public toilet vehicle was also refused on the grounds that the demonstration area is within 150 metres of the palace - a no-protest zone.

The lawyer said Tantawan and Orawan would seek approval from the Court, via the head of the Supreme Court, to continue protesting within the Courts fenced domain. The request was to be filed on Monday morning.

To show solidarity with Tantawan and Orawan, a number of other demonstrators also gathered front of the Court. Among them were Bencha Saengchantra, a lawmaker from Move Forward Party (MFP), and Sopon Surariddhidhamrong, an activist who was recently allowed bail after his no-sleep protest streak, which resulted in lingering damage to his nervous system.

As of 26 February, three political dissidents remain in detention pending trial - Thiranai, Khathathon, and Chaiyaporn (surnames withheld in all cases). Their release was among the immediate demands of Tantawan and Orawan. At the same day, the Court once again stood on refusing bail for Thiranai and Chaiyaporn on 26 Sunday, fearing them escaping the trial.

Their other demands include reform of the judicial system to guarantee human rights and freedom of expression. They also demand that every political party move to guarantee peoples rights, freedoms, and political participation by backing the repeal of the royal defamation and sedition laws.


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