Activist’s Tragic Death Sparks Outrage in Thailand: Calls for Justice Reform Skyrocket

Bangkok, Thailand – A young activist who was jailed for criticizing Thailand’s monarchy passed away on Tuesday after a lengthy hunger strike, officials announced. The death of Netiporn “Bung” Sanesangkhom, 28, has sparked grief and renewed calls for justice reform in the Southeast Asian nation.

Netiporn, a member of the protest group Thalu Wang, was advocating for reforms to Thailand’s powerful monarchy and challenging the country’s strict lese majeste law, which imposes harsh penalties for criticizing the royal family. She had been detained since January and was awaiting trial.

During her time in detention, Netiporn went on a 65-day hunger strike to protest the imprisonment of political dissidents without bail. Despite being transferred between the prison hospital and jail due to her declining health, she continued her protest.

Netiporn’s passing has shocked many in Thailand, leading to calls for changes to the judicial system that allows activists to be held without bail for prolonged periods. Human rights organizations have criticized Thailand’s use of lese majeste laws to silence dissent and have urged for the release of political prisoners.

Following Netiporn’s death, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin expressed condolences to her family and promised an investigation into the circumstances surrounding her passing. He also acknowledged the calls for the release of all political detainees and emphasized the importance of justice for everyone.

The advocacy group Thai Lawyers for Human Rights revealed that since the start of the 2020 protests, nearly 2,000 individuals have faced prosecution for participating in political assemblies and expressing dissent, with hundreds of cases involving children. The group also noted that over 200 people have been charged with lese majeste during this time.

As Thailand seeks a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council and negotiates a free trade agreement with the European Union, Netiporn’s death serves as a poignant reminder of the challenges faced by activists in the country. The demand for bail for political detainees and the protection of fundamental freedoms remain at the forefront of calls for reform in Thailand.