Hunger-striking monarchy reform activist gets bail, goes straight to hospital

A file photo of Tantawan “Tawan” Tuatulanon, who has been on a hunger strike since April 20. Photo: Thai Lawyers for Human Rights
A file photo of Tantawan “Tawan” Tuatulanon, who has been on a hunger strike since April 20. Photo: Thai Lawyers for Human Rights

A court granted bail Thursday afternoon to a young activist said to be in serious condition after a 37-day hunger strike. She was immediately taken to a hospital for treatment.

At around 1:30pm, the Criminal Court ordered Tantawan “Tawan” Tuatulanon, 20, released from custody and placed under house arrest as she awaits trial on charges she insulted the monarchy – a crime punishable by up to 15 years in prison – and violated the Computer Crime Act. 

She was granted bail for 30 days on the condition she wear a monitoring device, not leave her residence without court permission, and not do anything deemed to “insult” the Thai monarchy. 

Tawan’s case stems from an opinion poll she initiated earlier this year about the royal motorcades which can tie up Bangkok’s already abysmal traffic. She also live-streamed a video from one such motorcade on Ratchadamnoen Nok Road. 

The court also agreed to appoint Pita Limjaroenrat, a businessman-turned-MP of opposition Move Forward Party, as Tawan’s supervisor.

Tawan was first put behind bars March 5 before being briefly released and rearrested in April. She was subsequently denied bail multiple times, including on April 20, after which she began her hunger strike.

In recent days a growing chorus of public figures and rights groups have called for her release, as she was said to be in serious condition after beginning a hunger strike to protest her ongoing, pre-trial incarceration.

Young Thai activist on hunger strike in serious condition, needs treatment: rights groups

She was one of several young monarchy reform activists to be incarcerated. Others included Netiporn “Bung” Sanesangkhom, Nutthanit “Bai Por” Duangmusit, and Sophon “Get” Surariddhidhamrong. 

The number of lese majeste cases in Thailand has increased significantly in the past year, according to the Human Rights Watch. After a nearly three-year hiatus in which no new lese majeste cases were brought before the courts, Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-ocha in late 2020 ordered the authorities to resume lese majeste prosecutions, ostensibly because of growing, open criticism of the royal family. 

Since then, officials have charged more than 200 people with lese majeste crimes in relation to various activities at pro-democracy rallies or comments on social media.

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Young Thai activist on hunger strike in serious condition, needs treatment: rights groups



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