Bangkok Post – Activists call for release of political detainees

Passing of detained protester Netiporn reignites debate over bail rights

Activists have stepped up their calls for the release of young political detainees following the death of jailed protester Netiporn “Boong” Sanesangkhom on Tuesday.

Nattawut Saikuar, a former red-shirt leader, posted his condolences on Facebook.

“No one is supposed to die for thinking differently,” he wrote.

He said he hoped Netiporn’s passing would be the last of its kind and urged the government to release all students currently facing charges under Section 112 of the Criminal Code, the lese-majeste law.

Pannika Wanich, a core member of the Progressive Movement, wrote on social media: “Do we need to wait for another death, so people will realise? Those who have different opinions should not go to jail or die.

“Rights for bail should be granted to everyone. There are many who are still in prison, and three engaged in hunger strikes of their own,” she added.

Netiporn, 28, went into cardiac arrest at the Central Correctional Hospital just after 6am Tuesday. She was taken to Thammasat University Hospital where she was pronounced dead at 11.22am.

While the Department of Corrections claimed she had been eating normally in recent weeks, lawyers said Netiporn had been severely weakened by the hunger strike that she undertook earlier.

Netiporn began her hunger strike on Jan 27 to press her demand for bail rights and the release of political detainees. She had been jailed after her bail was revoked in connection with a lese-majeste charge she was facing.

An autopsy to determine the exact cause of death is scheduled for 9am Wednesday at Thammasat University Hospital. Family members and lawyers have been invited to observe, said Justice Minister Tawee Sodsong, who expressed the government’s condolences.

The opposition Move Forward Party posted on its Facebook page that it firmly believes that rights, liberty and freedom of expression should be granted to all people in a democracy.

“This is an important moment, and every party should create a safe zone for everyone to find a way out of the political conflict, especially granting bail for suspects associated with politics-related cases,” it said.

David Daly, the EU ambassador to Thailand, wrote on social media that he was “saddened by the passing” of Netiporn. Ambassadors from the US, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden posted similar messages.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights posted on X: “We are deeply disturbed by death of Netiporn ‘Bung’ Sanesangkhom who was on hunger strike to demand judicial reform and release of prisoners. We call for transparent & impartial investigation into her death and care. Freedom of expression and peaceful assembly are fundamental rights.”

Thailand is bidding for a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Committee.

A few hundred people attended candlelight vigils in remembrance of Netiporn at the Bangkok South Criminal Court on Charoen Krung Road and the Criminal Court on Ratchadaphisek Road on Tuesday night.

Among those at the latter venue was prominent Move Forward MP Rangsiman Rome, who raised a three-finger salute.

Netiporn was an outspoken and controversial figure, even among some in the protest movement. She was often criticised for aggressive and confrontational behaviour.

One young former activist who fled abroad alleged last year that Netiporn had manipulated her when she was 16, in what she described as “child grooming”.

The activist said that Netiporn had also taken Thanalop “Yok” Phalanchai, a 15-year-old who faces a lese-majeste charge, from her parents without their permission.

Thanalop has insisted that she had never been manipulated and and had engaged in protest activities of her own free will. However, she announced earlier this year that she was ending her political activism to concentrate on her studies.

Local media reports said that Netiporn had made a will in February, in which she left all her cash and bank deposits as well as some other possessions, to her teenaged protege.

SOURCE: Bangkokpost.com : Thailand   (go to source)
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