Outcry as activist dies in custody: PM Srettha vows transparency

Photo courtesy of Bangkok Post

The untimely demise of political activist Netiporn Sanesangkhom sparked outrage and drew sharp attention to the justice system’s handling of detainees. Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, expressing profound sorrow, conveyed his condolences to Netiporn’s family.

Vowing transparency and justice, the Thai PM promptly ordered the Justice Ministry to investigate the circumstances of her passing.

Netiporn’s demise on Tuesday ignited a storm of questions regarding the treatment of detainees by the Department of Corrections (DoC), particularly in comparison to the preferential treatment of paroled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

The incident has reignited demands for justice reform and shed light on fellow activists Tantawan Tuatulanon and Natthanon Chaimahabud, who are currently staging a hunger strike for bail rights and the release of political detainees.

Tantawan, who shared the same prison hospital ward as Netiporn, was transferred to Thammasat University Hospital for stress and depression treatment following the traumatic events of the previous day. According to the DoC, Netiporn suffered a heart attack at Central Correctional Hospital on Tuesday morning, despite resuscitation efforts and emergency care.

Netiporn, a prominent figure in the Thalu Wang protest group, became the first activist to die in custody since the onset of youth-led protests in 2020 advocating for monarchy reform. Charged with royal defamation under Section 112 of the Criminal Code, she was one of 272 individuals facing such charges since 2020, according to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR).

As the public outcry intensified, former red-shirt leader Jatuporn Prompan denounced Netiporn’s treatment as a stark example of double standards, contrasting her situation with Thaksin’s privileged treatment during his legal proceedings. Jatuporn pointed out the swift action taken to transfer Thaksin to a hospital during his detention, highlighting the stark disparity in treatment.

Meanwhile, concerns over Netiporn’s welfare while detained continue to mount, reported Bangkok Post.

The National Human Rights Commission has called for a thorough investigation to ensure transparency, while Amnesty International has labelled her death a wake-up call for Thai authorities to reassess their policies regarding pro-democracy activists.

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Samantha Rose

Samantha was a successful freelance journalist who worked with international news organisations before joining Thaiger. With a Bachelor's degree in Journalism from London, her global perspective on news and current affairs is influenced by her days in the UK, Singapore, and across Thailand. She now covers general stories related to Thailand.

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