Hunger-striking activists refuse bail release by court

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

A court on Tuesday granted a one-month release to two hunger-striking activists upon a hospital request. However, the duo insisted that they would maintain their strike from the hospital.

After agreeing to receive intravenous care yesterday, Tantawan “Tawan” Tuatulanon and Orawan “Bam” Phuphong were offered bail by the Criminal Court after a 20-day hunger strike that left them seriously ill.

The bail came after a request by Paruehas Tor-udom, director of Thammasat University Hospital, where the duo have been receiving treatment. Paruehas wrote that Tantawan and Orawan’s lives were in danger as they had practiced a dry hunger strike for more than 20 days. 

However, according to lawyer Krisadang Nutcharas, Tantawan and Orawan did not acknowledge Paruehas’ request for their release. Although they said they were “surprised” by the court’s decision, they decided to not consent to the release order and continued their hunger strike. 

The two activists had hoped Monday 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. The court refused to do so. 

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.


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