Human Interest

Thailand student leader hospitalized after 45 days on hunger strike

Bangkok, Apr 30 (EFE).- One of the main leaders of the student protests in Thailand arrested for questioning the monarchy was admitted Friday to a Bangkok hospital due to his deteriorating health after spending 45 days on hunger .

Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak, 22, will undergo a blood transfusion and be given nutrients intravenously due to digestive problems he suffers, NGO Thai Lawyers for Human Rights said.

A Bangkok court Thursday denied Parit’s provisional release and that of seven other leaders awaiting trial for royal defamation, a crime that carries up to 15 years in prison, and other charges.

The lawyer for the hospitalized activist presented a Friday request for his provisional release, while a group of young people and his mother demonstrated in front of court in the north of the capital. The decision is scheduled for Thursday.

The prisons department denied Thursday that the activist was in “critical condition” and said he was only suffering from “exhaustion.” Parit has been in prison since February along with seven other student leaders.

Among those arrested are Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul – one of 2020’s 100 most inspiring and influential women in the world, according to the BBC – who has also been on a hunger strike for 32 days.

All of them led last year along with other activists a wave of mass protests calling for democratic reforms in the country, including the monarchy.

The main leaders of the protests, mainly young university students who dared to publicly ask that the king not have an active role in politics, have been charged with royal defamation and are in prison.

The protests broke the taboo of openly questioning the role of the monarchy and got the debate to jump to social networks and the streets.

Thailand punishes defamation, insults or threats toward the king, queen, crown prince, heir apparent or regent with penalties of between three and 15 years in prison, through article 112 of the penal code.

At least 382 people, including 13 minors, have been charged since July for participating in demonstrations and expressing their political views, while at least 88 have been charged with royal defamation, according to the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights organization. EFE


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