Justice minister vows action after hunger strike activist’s death

Photo courtesy of Thai PBS World

Justice Minister Tawee Sodsong announced plans yesterday to visit political activist Tantawan Tuatulanon, who has been on a hunger strike since late January.

This decision follows the tragic death of fellow activist Netiporn Sanesangkhom who succumbed to cardiac arrest at Thammasat University Hospital yesterday.

Minister Tawee expressed his condolences over Netiporn’s death, emphasising the government’s commitment to transparency.

“A thorough investigation by a joint committee will be conducted to ensure transparency. This is expected to be completed within seven days.”

Netiporn’s ordeal began when the Court revoked her bail on a lèse majesté charge related to a protest involving a royal motorcade. She started her hunger strike in late January and was eventually transferred from the Corrections Department Hospital to Thammasat University Hospital due to her declining health. The Corrections Department claimed she had agreed to take food and liquid upon her return but refused some supplementary vitamins.

Tantawan, similarly charged with lèse majesté twice in 2022 and recently accused of sedition and other offences, has had her bail requests repeatedly denied. Her health is reportedly deteriorating as she continues her hunger strike.

Adding fuel to the fire, Krisadang Nutcharat of Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) questioned the Corrections Department’s treatment of political detainees. He pointed to Netiporn’s death as evidence of potential double standards, contrasting her treatment with the recent parole release of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, citing ill health, reported Thai PBS World.

“If the standard of treatment is equal for all inmates, why did Netiporn have to be sent to Thammasat University Hospital?”

UPDATE: Political activist detainee passes away after cardiac arrest

Political activist Nethiporn, also known as Bung, of the Thaluwang Group, passed away at 11.52pm today following her hospitalisation this morning due to a cardiac arrest. After several life-saving efforts by the medical team at Ratchadon Hospital, attempts were made to transfer her to Thammasart University Hospital, where her treatment would continue.

But as medical officials instead transferred her from the emergency room to the forensics unit at Thammasart University Hospital, her untimely passing was clear.

Although the circumstances around her tragic and untimely death have not yet been released, hospital staff and forensic officials did confirm her official transfer to the forensics service unit.

The root cause of her initial medical emergency is still shrouded in mystery, questions were raised on whether her hunger strike following her sentencing at the Central Women’s Correctional Facility on January 26 had led to a deterioration in her health.

ORIGINAL STORY: Political activist detainee suffers cardiac arrest in custody

A critical medical emergency unfolded this morning as political detainee Nethiporn, known as Bung from the Thaluwang Group, suffered a cardiac arrest. Medical personnel at Ratchadon Hospital confirmed that they are currently engaged in life-saving efforts, performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on the patient.

Associated with the Thaluwang Group, she has been in police custody for her involvement in political activities. Details surrounding the circumstances that led to her heart-stopping remain scarce, but immediate medical intervention was initiated to resuscitate her.

The hospital’s medical team is fighting against the clock to stabilise her condition.

After her sentencing to one month in prison for contempt of court by the South Bangkok Criminal Court, Nethiporn has been detained at the Central Women’s Correctional Facility since January 26.

Following this, she announced a hunger strike the following day on January 27. On April 9, the hunger strike of political detainees had been extended to involve four people, as per the Human Rights Lawyers Centre, reported Khaosod.

Further details on Nethiporn’s current health status or the potential causes of the cardiac arrest have been released. However, the question remains whether her hunger strike had significantly affected her health, leading to her cardiac arrest.

Nevertheless, this case underscores the critical nature of having adequate medical facilities and preparedness within places of detention. Events such as this serve as a stark reminder of the vulnerability of incarcerated individuals and the importance of ensuring their right to timely and appropriate medical care.

The gravity of Nethiporn’s condition has drawn attention not only due to her political status but also because of the underlying issues surrounding the healthcare of detainees, thereby highlighting the broader concerns of human rights within the political and judicial system.

Bangkok NewsCrime NewsPolitics NewsThailand News

Puntid Tantivangphaisal

Originally from Hong Kong, Puntid moved to Bangkok in 2020 to pursue further studies in translation. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Hong Kong. Puntid spent 8 years living in Manchester, UK. Before joining The Thaiger, Puntid has been a freelance translator for 2 years. In her free time, she enjoys swimming and listening to music, as well as writing short fiction and poetry.

Related Articles