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Activists Tantawan Tuatulanon and Orawan Phuphong have once again been admitted to Thammasat University Hospital as their condition has worsened following 44 days on hunger strike.

Tantawan being transferred from the tent in front of the Supreme Court into an ambulance before being taken to Thammasat University Hospital (Photo by Ginger Cat)

Tantawan and Orawan have been on a hunger strike for the past 44 days to demand the release of all political prisoners, reform of the judicial system, and for political parties to back the repeal of the royal defamation and sedition law. They first began dry fasting on 18 January after their demands were not met within three days after they revoked their own bail. They were initially admitted to the Department of Corrections Hospital but were transferred to Thammasat University Hospital on 24 January.

At the request of doctors, they began taking a small amount of water each day since 30 January and later agreed to receive IV fluids after two weeks of dry fasting. On 7 February, they were granted bail, following a request from the director of Thammasat University Hospital, although both activists said they did not know about the request and did not consent to it.

They left the hospital on 25 February and have been continuing their hunger strike in a tent in front of the Supreme Court. On Thursday (2 March), they resumed dry fasting, refusing fluids and medication, after 25-year-old protester Thattaphong Khieaokhao was been denied bail after he was indicted for being in possession of an explosive. 

Orawan being transferred from the tent in front of the Supreme Court into an ambulance before being taken to Thammasat University Hospital (Photo by Ginger Cat)

On Friday evening (3 March), their families and lawyer decided to have them taken to Thammasat University Hospital, as their lives were reported to be in danger. 

Lawyer Kritsadang Nutcharus told reporters gathering in front of the Supreme Court that he and the activists' parents decided that they must be taken to a hospital because their condition has gotten worse than when they were previously hospitalised, and doctors were concerned that their internal organs could be permanently damaged or they might lose their lives.

Kritsadang said that Tantawan and Orawan initially did not want to be hospitalised and insisted on waiting until every political prisoner is granted bail. However, he said that the families consulted a doctor, and judging from the results of their blood tests, they decided the pair needed to be transferred to a hospital as their lives are in danger.

Kritsadang (left) with a doctor from Police Hospital (Photo by Ginger Cat)

Kritsadang noted that Tantawan and Orawan spent most of the past 3 - 4 days asleep, and that they would ask if everyone has been released whenever they wake up. He also said that they did not say what they would do from here on, only that they would continue to fight.

"We have used our right as their parents and lawyers to ask them to go to Thammasat University Hospital. They were worried about having to be hospitalised again. They wanted to stay here," Kritsadang said. 

"We have been monitoring them together with a doctor during the past 3 - 4 days. We saw what we think may be a danger to their lives. This is why we've made this decision. I actually don't want to obstruct what they are fighting for, because it is not the job of a lawyer, but since they've entrusted us with making a decision, this is what we decided."

Tantawan and Orawan were taken to the emergency room at Thammasat University Hospital via ambulances from the Police Hospital, assisted by Police Hospital nurses and officers from Chanasongkhram Police Station. They arrived at Thammasat University Hospital at around 19.00. 

Note: the article was edited for grammar at 15.45 on 4 March 2023.

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