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Tiwagorn Withiton, a Facebook user who went viral for posting a picture of himself wearing a shirt printed with “I lost faith in the monarchy,” was forcibly taken by police officers and admitted to the Khon Kaen Rajanagarindra Psychiatric Hospital last Thursday (9 July).

Tiwagorn Withiton

Tiwagorn’s mother said that she was summoned by a high-ranking police officer and a psychiatrist and asked to give her consent to have her son admitted to the hospital, telling her that he will only get worse if left as he is. Since the family agreed that this would be the best course of action for Tiwagorn, she gave her consent. 

She said that around 10 police and hospital vehicles came to their house around 19.00 pm on Thursday (9 July). She did not see Tiwagorn being taken away, but another family member said that a group of police officers and nurses went into the house, but Tiwagorn refused to be taken and was carried out by a group of 6 officers.

This family member was in the same vehicle as Tiwagorn as he was taken to hospital, and said that the officers tied Tiwagorn’s hands with a piece of cloth and gave him an injection in both arms.

Tiwagorn’s mother said that after Tiwagorn was taken away in an ambulance, police officers searched the house and took Tiwagorn’s computer and smart phone. They also took photos of these belongings before taking them, and made his mother sign a document, the content of which is unknown.

Tiwagorn told Prachatai he is currently safe. However, one of his family members said that officers from the Khon Kaen Provincial Police Station stay with him around the clock while he is in hospital, and that they check the ID of every visitor and keep watch at all time when Tiwagorn’s family visit him.

According to the 2008 Mental Health Act, Tiwagorn has to be diagnosed within 30 days of his admission, and if a charge is filed against him, a psychiatrist has to assess and notify the inquiry official whether Tiwagorn is capable of defending the case within 45 days.

Tiwagorn previously went viral for posting a picture of himself on his Facebook profile page wearing a shirt which said “I lost faith in the monarchy.” As a result, he was summoned by the authorities who asked him to stop wearing the shirt. However, he continued to wear the shirt and posted about wearing it in public. He also published a post explaining that losing faith does not mean that he wants to abolish the monarchy.

He was among those who joined the Red Shirt protests in 2009 – 2010. His family said that he experienced stress and depression following the 2014 military coup and that they have asked him to consult a psychiatrist.

Tiwagorn’s last Facebook post before he was taken to the hospital said that he was visited by 6 medical personnel and an officer from Internal Security Operations Command, who asked him questions to assess his mental health. He said that the conversation lasted around 30 minutes, and that he told the psychiatric official that “I well understand that it is political to have to make people think I’m insane. I won’t hold it against the officials if there is a diagnosis that I’m insane, because I take it that they have to follow orders.”

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