2 hunger-striking Thai activists agree to IV therapy

A file photo of activists Orawan ‘Bam’ Phuphong and Tantawan ‘Tawan’ Tuatulanon. Photo: Thai Lawyers for Human Rights
A file photo of activists Orawan ‘Bam’ Phuphong and Tantawan ‘Tawan’ Tuatulanon. Photo: Thai Lawyers for Human Rights

Two ailing young activists agreed to receive an intravenous care last night after over 20 days on a hunger strike.

After consulting with their lawyer and doctors, Tantawan “Tawan” Tuatulanon and Orawan “Bam” Phuphong agreed to go on the IV at the Thammasat University Hospital due to their deteriorating health conditions. The duo, however, refused to consume solid food. 

“The doctor told me that if we’re doing nothing, Tantawan and Orawan wouldn’t make it through the night,” said attorney Krisadang Nutcharat of Thai Lawyers for Human Rights. “So the doctor, their parents, and I asked them to receive treatment.”

The two activists on Monday had hoped that the court would grant bail for eight protesters of the Thalu Gas group who had been charged for allegedly using ping-pong bombs, or fireworks, at a protest two years ago in Bangkok’s Din Daeng area. Instead, the court did not make a ruling.

Several pro-democracy activists have expressed their support for Tantawan and Orawan. Free Arts’s Facebook page on Monday gathered artworks of a sunflower created by Thai artists to show support for the two hunger-striking activists. Sunflower in Thai is tantawan, the name of the 21-year-old activist. 

Tantawan, 21, and Orawan, 23, have been on hunger strike since Jan. 16 to demand three things: reform of the justice system, the release of political prisoners pending trials, and political support by every party for repealing Section 112 or lese majeste.

Tantawan and Orawan were charged last year under the draconian royal insult law known as lese majeste for conducting an opinion poll about royal motorcades snarling traffic in the capital. Those convicted under the royal defamation law face up to 15 years in prison per offense.

They have been detained since Jan. 16, when they asked the Criminal Court to revoke their bail to call out the unusual use of pretrial detention against political activists; namely, critics of the monarchy.

Doctors concerned about worsening health of Thai hunger-strikers
Hunger-striking Thai activists refuse treatment at prison hospital

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