Bloodied by severe blows to the head, a 27-year-old anti-junta activist was rushed to Nawamin Hospital this morning after he was attacked in the middle of a Bangkok road in broad daylight – marking the second attack on him this month.
At around 11am, pro-democracy campaigner Sirawith “Ja New” Seritiwat was ambushed and severely beaten by four unidentified men after leaving his house in Bangkok’s Khan Na Yao district. Frustrated police say that Sirawith, who just became responsive this afternoon, will remain at the hospital while doctors run more brain scans and closely monitor his critical injuries.
“The doctors think his skull is fractured right now but they have to run more tests. His eye socket and nose are also broken,” Col. Shaiwit Poompote, deputy commander of metropolitan police division three, told Coconuts Bangkok over the phone this afternoon.
According to Shaiwit, the four attackers wore heavy-duty helmets and were riding atop two motorbikes during the incident. When bystanders rushed to help the campaigner, the four fled the scene on their vehicles.
Sirawith helped lead numerous protests as a leader in the defunct New Democracy Movement and its successor, the Democracy Restoration Group.
Police are currently questioning witnesses and tracking down CCTV footage. Though officials have not yet identified the suspects, the deputy commander said the brashness of their crime leads him to suspect that the attackers were hired by someone immensely powerful.
“These assholes ambushed him in the middle of the road in broad daylight, without paying attention to the commotion and traffic congestion they caused. There were so many people around at that time but they didn’t care,” he said.
This was the second attack on Sirawith this month. The first took place on June 4, when the activist was beaten near Bangkok’s downtown court while leaving an anti-junta protest. The campaigner said that he was surrounded and repeatedly hit on the head by his assailants. Though the attackers were never identified or caught, some citizens have aired their suspicions that the junta could be involved.
But Sirawith’s troubles did not begin there. Back in 2016, when he was still a student at Thammasat University, he was snatched from a Bangkok street, bundled into a car and assaulted by soldiers.
Perhaps the most frequent victims of violent assaults have been activist Ekachai Hongkangwan, who has been beaten more than a half dozen times in the past two years, ever since he began campaigning against junta No. 2 Prawit Wongsuwan. Ekachai has accused Prawit of being behind the attacks, a claim Prawit dismisses. None of his attackers has ever been brought to Justice.
In the past five years, members of the ruling junta has been prickly about people speaking against them. From allegedly abducting critics to forcing a French expat to apologize for a satirical video he made poking fun at the regime, it appears they’re willing to go out of their way to have the last word.