UN expresses concern over Thai student protesters catching Covid in prison

Bangkok, Aug 31 (EFE).- The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, Mary Lawlor, on Tuesday expressed concern over the condition of Thailand’s student protesters who have caught Covid-19 in prison.

In a tweet, Lawlor referred to reports of Parit Chiwarak and other student leaders catching Covid-19 in prison as “disturbing” and said they needed to be transferred from the prison hospital in order to get “adequate care.”

Lawlor recalled that last year she had already expressed her concern along with other special rapporteurs to the Thai government over the arrests of Parit and other student leaders.

Parit, who was sent back to prison three weeks ago after being out on bail, is at a prison hospital in Bangkok but has requested to be transferred to an external hospital for treatment.

Last year, several UN representatives had criticized the arrests of anti-government protesters in Thailand for protesting and voicing their opinion

However, Thai authorities claim that the arrested protesters have been charged with violating laws and committing crimes such as inciting violence, lese-majeste, sedition and circulation of false news.

The student-led protests kicked off in February 2020 after the controversial dissolution of the Future Forward Party, a new progressive formation which had called for widespread reforms in the country and had a sizable following among the youth.

Later, the movement spread among other social sectors, such as the LGBTI community and farm workers, with a long list of demands that included constitutional reforms and reducing the power of the military, who have repeatedly seized power in 13 coups since the abolition of absolute monarchy in 1932.

However, the boldest demand is a reform in the monarchy in order to reduce its political influence and amendment in the lese-majeste law, which imposes prison terms of 3-15  years for insulting or denigrating members of the Royal Household.

In recent months, protesters have also demanded the government’s resignation over its alleged failure to handle the pandemic and a mases surge in cases, which have crossed the 1.19 million mark in the country.

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