23-day hunger strikers admit defeat-Bangkok Post

March 5, 2012

Rights activists end hunger strike

Achara Ashayagachat

Bangkok Post: March 5, 2012


Hunger strike activists seeking bail rights for political prisoners on Monday announced the end of their fasting marathon, admitting they had achieved no tangible result.

The group said other campaigns may later be launched to apply pressure for the delivery of the basic right to bail for political prisoners.

Core member Jitra Kotchadet read out a statement winding down the 23-day hunger strike, which began in front of the Criminal Court on Feb 11. She said the judiciary has not positively responded to the peaceful campaign for basic rights.

[Achara Ashayagachat]

“We continued the hunger strike campaign beyond the 112-hour ordeal initiated by Panitan Prueksakaemsuk and Phusadee Ngamkham and are disappointed that there has yet to be a standard implementation of bail approvals,” labour unionist Jitra said.

Mr Panitan is the son of lese majeste defendant Somyot Prueksakasemsuk and Ms Phusadee a staunch supporter of the red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship.

Ms Jitra said the alliance would now, instead, campaign for judicial reform and the unconditional release of political prisoners on a weekly basis.

Group member Tewarit Manechay said the recent approval of bail following the conviction of  Sondhi Limthongkul on a case of serious financial fraud was a stark contrast to the treatment accorded the May 2010 crackdown-related and lese majeste defendants, some of whom have yet to hear their verdicts.

“We totally agree that Mr Sondhi, who was given 85 years (reduced to 20 years) should be given bail, but the red-shirt political prisoners should also be fairly treated in the same manner,” said Mr Tewarit.

During the hunger strike campaign many people people visited the fasters in a show of solidarity for those who took turns staying at the makeshift shelter.

The visitors included internationally acclaimed film director Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Institute of Southeast Asian Studies lead analyst Pavin Chachavalpongpun. Those who staged the hunger strike after Mr Panitan and Ms Phusadee ended their fast included the wives of lese majeste defendants Uncle SMS and Surachai Danwattananusorn, also known Surachai Sae Dan.


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