Since the May 2014 coup, at least 18 activists and civilians have chosen “hunger strike” as a method of protest to call for justice from the government and the justice system, especially with the purpose to demand the right to bail.
In this wave of movement, the “hunger strike” tactic first started in 2016 with Jatupat “Pai” Boonpattararaksa, the then activist of pro-democracy Dao Din group. After being arrested for handing out leaflets to campaign against the Meechai Ruchuphan’s proposed constitution draft, Jatupat — at the time detained at the Phu Khiao District Prison in Chaiyaphum province, northeastern Thailand — went on a hunger strike for the whole 12 days of his pre-trial detention to protest against the illegitimate referendum process and unlawful arrests of activists.
Lawyer Prawet Prapanukul chose the same method in 2017, while being detained at the 11th Military Circle, to oppose the military’s restrictions that not allowed him to communicate with the outside world during detention
In 2021 — during the dubbed “upswing” of the democratic movement due to frequent rallies of mass participation — authorities escalated the prosecution and detention of a number of activists. While being detained at the Bangkok Remand Prison in mid-March for allegedly leading the mass 19 September protest, Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak announced that he would go on a hunger strike to demand for his right to bail. His 58-day starving is recorded as the longest hunger strike.
Parit’s decision led to many other activists who were imprisoned at the same time to endorse his method to claim their right to bail, including “Fah” Promsorn, Pornchai, “Rung” Panusaya, “Frank” Natthanon, Sam Samat, “New” Sirichai, and “Tee” Wanwalee. Apart from the right to bail, some of these detainees called for additional demands such as the right to medical treatment, the right to food and clean water and sanitation, and the right to a safe and private space for legal counsel, among other rights.
Such a movement prompted at least six non-detained individuals to begin a “Hunger strike with friends” campaign — fasting to demand for the release of political detainees. This effort was carried out in solidarity with the “Stand-Stop-Detention” activities, led by the People Go Network in front of the Criminal Court in Bangkok.
Participants of the Hunger strike with friends campaign took successive turns fasting: When one stops fasting, another person picks up the practice; if the next person could not continue fasting, the other participant fasts instead.
Mongkol “Bas” Thirakot, an activist from Thailand’s northern province Chiang Rai, is the first person to start this campaign in front of the Criminal Court in Bangkok. After three days of hunger strike, Bas had to stop when he was arrested on the charge of royal defamation under Section 112 of the Thai Criminal Code. Former “Samana Dao Din” took over the hunger strike, followed by “Aunt Pao” Worawan, Lertsak, Patchanee and, the last participant, “Sun” of pro-democracy Talufa group (Translation: piercing through the sky), who had to stop fasting due to declining health conditions on 12 May 2021. The older sister of activist Rung Panusaya also went on a hunger strike to demand for her sister’s bail.
On 20 April 2022, Tantawan “Tawan” Tuatulanon was the latest person — and the first of 2022 — to go on a hunger strike, at the Central Women Correctional Institution after the Criminal Court revoked her bail in a royal defamation case. At the time of writing (30 April 2022), Tawan has been fasting for 11 days, having survived with only water and milk. *Note that Tawan had been granted a month-long bail and released on 26 May 2022.
Timeline of 11 political activists on a “hunger strike” to demand for the right to bail, and basic rights of detainees and inmates, and oppose unlawful arrest
1. “Pai” Jatupat: 12 days strike (8 – 19 August 2016)
Jatupat “Pai” Boonpattararaksa (male) — while still a student and a member of pro-democracy group Dao Din — started a hunger strike on 7 August 2016, the first day of his pre-trial detention at Phu Khiao District Prison in northeastern Chaiyaphum province, after being arrested for handing out leaflets to campaign against the Meechai Ruchuphan’s proposed constitution draft. Jatupat planned to starve himself until the end of his first detention period of 12 days to protest against the illegitimate referendum process and unlawful arrest.
Jatupat fasted, consuming only water, coffee and milk. An activist of the Protect Krabi Network (a group which opposes coal mining in southern Thailand) advised Jatupat to drink coconut juice, which contains a number of minerals and vitamins, to maintain his body’s functioning.
“I know that Gandhi starved. I know that Chamlong [Srimuang, a former activist and politician] starved. I know that the people who oppose coal mining starve to protest. But I didn’t fully understand them. Now that I’m [on a hunger strike], I feel that it’s such a great thing. It’s a whole nother league. Okay, I see you’re fasting. I respect you. I agree with you. But when I [actually] do it — wow, I have to admit, you can really fight. If I hadn’t done it myself, if I had listened to people’s advice not to do it, that it’s insufferable, I wouldn’t have known,” Pai recalled his experience during the hunger strike.
After the first detention term concluded on 19 August 2021, in total 12 days of fasting, Jatupat was granted temporary release and therefore ended the hunger strike.
Method of hunger strike — Drink water, coffee, milk and coconut water.
Effects — Abdominal pain in the beginning, then fatigue and weight loss of about 10 kg.
2. Lawyer Prawet Prapanukul: two days strike (29 – 30 April 2017)
Prawet Prapanukul (male) is a lawyer who has represented defendants of royal defamation allegations under Section 112 of the Criminal Code. On 29 April 2017, he was arrested by military officers at his residence without an arrest warrant, then taken to the 11th Military Circle without the ability to notify anyone about his arrest (incommunicado detention). At the time, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO: a group of military personnel who instigated the coup and assumed executive, legislative and judicial powers as the new government in May 2014) granted the military power to detain civilians charged with ‘national security’ allegations on military grounds for up to seven days.
During detention, Prawet requested to contact a trusted person but was denied authorization by the military personnel. He then went on a hunger strike to protest the restrictions of such a right.
The next day, he insisted on his request to contact a trusted person with the authority, citing his required presence at trial appointments of his clients’. Prawet continued to refuse to eat the food brought to him by military officers, until they authorized him to call a fellow lawyer. The officers forced Prawet to put the call on speaker so they could listen in, leading the call receiver to learn about Prawet’s detention. Following the call, Prawet stopped fasting.
Method of hunger strike — Refusing to eat the food provided by military officers.
3. “Penguin” Parit: 58 days strike (15 March – 11 May 2021)
Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak (male) went on a hunger strike on 15 March 2021, while being detained at the Bangkok Remand Prison pending a royal defamation trial, to claim his right to bail. Parit was charged with Section 112 of the Criminal Code for allegedly speaking at the #19SeptemberRatsadonTakeBackThePower. While the court set out to examine the evidence list of the case at Courtroom 701 at the Ratchada Criminal Court on 15 March 2021, Parit read a statement saying he would go on a hunger strike to protest the bail refusal.
During the hunger strike, Parit said he experienced extreme hunger, especially during the first two weeks. This was followed by dehydration and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar level). On one occasion, Parit’s blood sugar dropped to a fatally dangerous level. Prison guards and correctional officers pressured him to end his fasting: offering to provide him good food, putting food trays in his cell, and banning books, even his university course reading, in the cell. The last tactic is interpreted as a great pressure point to Parit who enjoys reading a lot.
Parit faced extreme exhaustion, with a bloody stool containing pieces of assumably intestinal and gastric membranes. He also retained conditions too unhealthy to self-remedy; he was therefore sent to the Ramathibodi Hospital for treatment.
Although Parit was later admitted to the hospital and received intravenous nutrition, he continued to fast until the court ordered a temporary release on 11 May 2021. His hunger strike has been the longest fasting in the pro-democracy movement since the May 2014 coup, a total of 58 days.
Method of hunger strike — Only drink milk for the first week of fasting, then only drink water for the rest of the fasting period.
Effects — During the hunger strike: exhaustion, hypoglycemia, dehydration and abdominal pain; after the hunger strike: weight loss of 12.5 kg (from 107 to 94.5 kg); and lasting effects: decreased appetite and ability to eat, and frequent stomach pain.
“I have no intention of taking my own life, only to suffer myself. So that, the suffering endured by me is a testimony of the injustice that has occurred, a spark that ignites [the court’s] conscience, and is the proof that the truth does not fear any suffering. If I have to sacrifice my life, I am willing to [do so]…,”
15 March 2021
4. “Fah” Promsorn: three separate strikes, 43 days in total (18 March – 5 April, 26 April – 10 May and 15 – 23 August 2021)
Promsorn “Fah” Wirathamjari (male) — the leader of the pro-democracy group Mutelu Ratsadon (Translation: Civilians who believe in superstition) — went on two hunger strikes while detained twice in one case. The first hunger strike started on 18 March 2021, the second day of his detention at the Thanyaburi District Prison, after he was informed of the charges against him (for allegedly calling for the release of another activist Sirichai “New” Nathung on 14 January 2021) and denied pre-trial bail by the police. Promsorn was determined to go on a hunger strike, seeing it as a peaceful method of resistance and civil disobedience instrumentalised by Mahatma Gandhi. His aim was to demand the right to bail in solidarity with Parit who had just begun his hunger strike.
Throughout the first fast, he was under pressure from those around him. Both prison guards and fellow detainees asked that Promsorn end the fast, to which he reflected as troublesome to people around him. As a result he ended the fast on 5 April 2021, totaling 19 days of hunger strike.
On 26 April 2021, Promsorn decided to fast for the second time while still being detained in the same case, in moral support of “Penguin” Parit and other detainees who were on a hunger strike. Not until the Thanyaburi Provincial Court granted Promson a temporary release (on 8 May 2021) did he stop fasting on 10 May 2021 upon his release. His second hunger strike lasted 15 days.
Promsorn was again denied pre-trial temporary release together with nine other activists in a separate case, which stems from the #Mob2August2021 protest to call for the release of Talufa activists in front of the Border Patrol Police, Region 1. Promsorn started the third hunger strike along with Sirichai Nathung and Sam Samat on 15 August 2021, the day they tested positive for COVID and were moved from the Rangsit Probational Center to the Medical Correctional Hospital. The three later stopped fasting on 23 August 2021 upon friends’ call to focus on COVID treatment. The third hunger strike lasted nine days.
Method of hunger strike — During the first hunger strike: drink one box of milk and water every day; during the second hunger strike: drink milk for the first five days, then drink only water for the rest of the strike period; and during the last hunger strike: drink water and milk and eat sour candies.
Effects — After being released, Promsorn has experienced digestion difficulties, stomach pain, and intermittent heartburn when intaking too much meat for a few consecutive meals. Promsorn still experiences malnutrition symptoms, often dizziness, hypoglycemia and fatigue. He was given medical advice to take multivitamins and maintain a healthy diet. Due to his relatively thin body and low weight, Promson has faced greater effects on his body than others with higher weight.
“Even if I am imprisoned, I will uphold my virtue of highest righteousness and truths
The dictator said I and my comrades are prisoners,
I shall drape myself in a prison uniform, as prisoners should.
And I shall starve and drink only one box of milk a day.
This should render sufficient for my time as a prisoner…”
Promsorn “Fah” Wirathamjari
26 April 2021
5. Pornchai: 4 days strike (26 – 29 March 2021)
“Pornchai” (male), a Pgaknyau (Karen) 38-year-old activist, started a hunger strike on 26 March 2021, while being detained during an investigation into a royal defamation case (under Section 112 of the Criminal Code) at the Chiang Mai Central Prison. Pornchai saw hunger strike as the only method of resistance while in custody.
While on hunger strike, Pornchai had breathing difficulties and abdominal pain, especially on the second night of fasting. Fellow detainees protested that his fasting of both food and water was too intense. According to fellow detainees, fasting usually takes a gradual process: avoiding solid food but still intaking water, milk and mineral water to maintain energy. Pornchai’s method was regarded as fatally dangerous.
On 29 March 2021 — after four days of fasting — Pornchia decided to end the hunger strike due to severe abdominal pain with life-threatening effects. On 21 April 2021, the Appeals Court, Region 5, granted him temporary release.
Method of hunger strike — No intake of food or water.
Effects — Abdominal pain and breathing difficulties, especially on the second night of hunger strike.
“I announce that I will starve on food and water.
If my body falls ill, I let the doctor make a decision [on my behalf] immediately.
Do not attempt to save me. I will donate [my body] to a [Catholic] hospital.”
25 March 2021
6. “Rung” Panusaya: 37 days strike (31 March – 6 May 2021)
Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawatanakul, a 23-year-old student and activist leader, started a hunger strike on 31 March 2021 while being detained pending a royal defamation trial at Central Women Correctional Institution. She was charged with Section 112 of the Criminal Code from her alleged participation in the #19SeptemberRatsadonTakeBackThePower rally. Panusaya decided to join in on the hunger strike in solidarity with fellow activist Parit or “Penguin,” after seeing pictures of him on saline in a wheelchair. Her requests include the right to bail, a private space for legal counsel and a private area for visitation.
Panusaya gradually began fasting to allow her body to adjust. For the first three days, she drank only milk in the morning and had one meal during the day. After that, she gradually reduced to drinking only water, milk and fruit juice.
After Panusaya began fasting, the correctional officers and nurses performed daily medical check-ups on her and ordered her to take multivitamins twice a day, in the morning and evening. On 6 May 2021, the court granted her temporary release, so Panusaya ended the hunger strike that day. Following her release, she immediately got in a car to return home with her family due to exhaustion from fasting.
Method of hunger strike — For the first three days, one meal a day; after that, drink only water, milk and fruit juice.
Effects — During the hunger strike: fatigue, insomnia, faintness, vitamin B deficiency; subsequent symptoms: yo-yo dieting effect.
“My action is for the good of the country. Now the justice system is killing us. I made every effort to show [the court] that my action was full of good intention and the love [for this country]. When the court doesn’t appreciate my well-intended actions, I had to show [the court] my endeavours. In this fight [for justice], I can’t do anything in [detention]. I can’t express [my thoughts and show my actions] in [detention] besides fasting. Being in [detention], no one hears or sees you. But if I starve, at least when I go to court people will see [the conditions of] my body. I want to use my body as a guarantee for justice. Every life is precious…”
30 March 2021
7. “Frank” Natthanon: 22 days strike (24 April – 15 May 2021)
Natthanon “Frank” Chaimahabutr (male), 22-year-old activist of protest-guards group WeVO, began his hunger strike on 24 April 2021 while being detained pending a royal defamation trial at the Bangkok Remand Prison. He was alleged to have damaged the detainee transport vehicle in front of the Bangkok Special Prison on the night of 30 October 2020.
Natthanon started fasting on the first day of solitary confinement, following his close contact with a COVID-19 patient. Natthanon said that he had fasted in solidarity with a fellow activist Parit or “Penguin” as he previously agreed between them in prison, to call for the right to bail.
Throughout the hunger strike, correctional officers, doctors and nurses continuously requested Natthanon to stop fasting. With other activists being released on bail, Natthanon was hopeful that he too would be released soon and ended the hunger strike. On 15 May 2021 (estimated end date of his hunger strike) Natthanon ended the hunger strike after having fasted for 22 days. On 18 May 2021, Natthanon was granted temporary release.
Method of hunger strike — Drink only water.
Effects — Abdominal pain and fatigue.
8. Sam Samat: two separate strikes, 15 days in total (17 – 22 June and 15 – 23 August 2021)
“Sam Samat” (male), a 21-year-old stateless Thai-Cambodian activist, went on a hunger strike twice while being detained in prison. He started his first hunger strike on 17 June 2021 — the first time he was ever detained — while awaiting trial for allegedly urinating onto a container during the #Mob28February protest.
Sam went on a hunger strike to protest against the prison’s substandard food for inmates and to call for the right to medical care for himself and other detainees who tested positive for COVID-19.
Sam later ended his fast on 22 June 2021, once the correctional officers informed him that he would soon be granted temporary release. Ultimately, he fasted in a total of six days before he was temporarily released on 5 July 2021.
Sam began fasting again on 15 August 2021 while in pre-trial detention for the second time at the Rangsit Probational Centre and later while receiving COVID-19 treatment at the Medical Correctional Hospital. In this case, Sam was accused to have participated in the #Mob2August2021 protest in front of the Royal Thai Police, Region 1. Sam was on a hunger strike for nine days till 23 August 2021 to call for the right to bail, until the Appeals Court, Region 1, ordered him temporarily released on 26 August 2021.
Method of hunger strike — On the first hunger strike: drink only tap water because he could not buy water, milk and other beverages from the prison shop and his relatives could not deposit items for or visit him; and on the second hunger strike: drink only water and milk, and eat candies.
Effects — Fatigue, hemoptysis (coughing up blood), chronic vomiting (almost all the time) and high fever, most likely due to COVID-19 infection at that time. His two hunger strikes have lasting effects on his health including reduced appetite to only one meal a day, digestion problems and frequent stomach pain, and colic when intaking too much food.
9. “Hugo” Sirichai: 9 days strike (15 – 23 August 2021)
Sirichai “Hugo” Nathung (male), a student and former member of the United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration, began a hunger strike on 15 August 2021 while being detained pending police investigation after the Thanyaburi Provincial Court denied his temporary release. The case against Sirichai stems from his alleged participation in the protest in front of the Royal Thai Police, Region 1. Sirichai had been detained at the Rangsit Probational Centre and was later transferred to the Medical Correctional Hospital for COVID-19 treatment. He called for the right to bail, citing that “I am not a prisoner, so I won’t eat prison food.”
Sirichai ended his hunger strike on 23 August 2021, after he received letters from friends and loved ones outside of prison asking him to stop fasting, take good care of his health, and fight another day.
Method of hunger strike — Drink only water and mineral drinks.
Effect — Fatigue.
10. “Tee” Wanwalee: 5 days strike (3 – 7 May 2021)
Wanwalee “Tee” Thamsattaya (female), a 22-year-old activist, went on a hunger strike on 3 May 2021, while being detained pending a royal defamation trial at the Thanyaburi Women Correctional Institution. She was charged with Section 112 of the Criminal Code for her alleged speech at the #Mob6December2021. Wanwalee decided to go on a hunger strike as a form of civil disobedience and to call for the right to bail in solidarity with fellow activist Parit or “Penguin,” Panusaya or “Rung”, and other political detainees/prisoners who had been denied bail.
During the hunger strike, nurses performed daily medical check-ups on Wanwalee. The initial results showed hypoglycemia since the first day of fasting. Wanwalee recalled that, one time the nurse who regularly attended her “cried” and asked her to end fasting and start eating, because her blood sugar level was dangerously low and life-threatening.
On 7 May 2021, the Thonburi Criminal Court ordered Wanwalee temporary release. Wanwalee therefore ended her hunger strike that morning, making her fast five days in total.
Method of hunger strike — First three days: drink only water; and last two days: drink milk, fermented milk and mineral drinks.
Effects — During the first two days of fasting: abdominal torsion and sharp stomach pain; the rest of the hunger strike: fatigue and faintness; immediately after the release: reduced appetite and ability to eat, and digestion problems; and a couple of weeks after the release: back to normal.
“I want to go on a hunger strike in solidarity with [fellow activist] Penguin and as a form of my civil disobedience. If the sacrifice [of our lives] can make a change in the judiciary or the country — no more hit and run [with impunity] like the Red Bull case, no more [impunity] like the Black Panther case — I think it’s worth it. 70 million [Thai] people will benefit [from this sacrifice]. But if we fight and don’t see any changes, younger generations will bear witness to [the lack of changes] and pick up the baton to continue the fight…”
Wanwalee “Tee” Thamsattaya
3 May 2021
11. “Tawan” Tantawan: on strike since 20 April 2022 until now (at least 10 days)
*Note that Tawan had since been granted a month-long bail and released on 26 May 2022.
Tantawan “Tawan” Tuatulanon, a 20-year-old activist, went on a hunger strike in the evening of 20 April 2022, after the Criminal Court revoked her bail in the royal defamation case (under Section 112 of the Criminal Code) against her. The prosecutor alleged that she had participated in the live broadcasting of the ground before the royal motorcade passed through. Following the revocation, Tawan was immediately transferred to the Central Women Correctional Institution. Tawan’s decision to go on a hunger strike is to demand for her right to bail and to protest against the justice system.
To date (30 April 2022) Tawan has continued to starve, consuming only water and milk. She has experienced fatigue and mild stomach pain, but almost always told the lawyer that “I’m still fine.”
Method of hunger strike — Drink only water and milk.
Effect — Fatigue.
At least seven non-detained individuals also joined the #HungerStrikeWithFriends and “Stand-Stop-Detention” campaign in front of the Criminal Court to demand the right to bail for political detainees
(The list contains only information documented by Thai Lawyers for Human Rights. The actual number may be higher.)
1. “Bas” Mongkol: 3 days strike (12 – 14 April 2021)
Mongkol “Bas” Thirakot (male), a 28-year-old online seller and activist from northern province Chiang Rai, joined the hunger strike movement on 12 April 2021 in front of the Criminal Court, Bangkok. He further participated in the Stand-Stop-Detention campaign to call for the release of political detainees.
Around 1 p.m. on 14 April 2021, after he had fasted for three days, plainclothes and uniformed police officers from the Pahonyothin Police Station, Bangkok, presented a warrant and arrested Mongkol for royal defamation allegations (under Section 112 of the Criminal Code). He was then taken to Chiang Rai, effectively ending his hunger strike.
Method of hunger strike — Drink only water, milk and mineral drinks.
Effects — Slight confusion and dizziness. No abdominal pain or fatigue, because, prior to the hunger strike, Mongkol had gone on a 7-day only-water fasting trial to adjust his physical conditions.
2. “Samana Dao Din”: 8 days strike (14 – 21 April 2021)
“Samana Dao Din,” a 58-year-old former monk of Santi Asoke (Translation: Peaceful Ashoka) or Dao Din Hin Fah, picked up the baton from Bas Mongkol, who was arrested and charged with Section 112 of the Criminal Code, and went on a hunger strike in front of the Criminal Court in Bangkok.
Samana Dao Din began fasting on 14 April 2021 to call for the right to bail for all political detainees. On 21 April 2021, police officers at the Pahonyothin Police Station and staff from the National Office of Buddhism arrested Samana Dao Din on grounds of illegally “wearing a monk uniform and imitating a monk,” and detained him at the North Bangkok District Court. He was later released on a 9,000 Thai Baht bail with conditions “not to go on a hunger strike in front of the Criminal Court” or to repeat the offense — effectively ending Samana Dao Din’s fasting on that day.
Method of hunger strike — Drink only water and mineral drinks.
Effects — Exhaustion, dizziness and sharp stomach pain, especially in the first few days of fasting.
3. “Aunt Pao” Worawan: 8 days strike (22 – 29 April 2021)
Worawan “Aunt Pao” Sae-Ung (female), a 68-year-old activist, announced her hunger strike on 22 April 2021, after Samana Dao Din ended his fast, in solidarity with the “Hunger strike with friends” campaign. She sat fasting near Gates 9 and 10 of the Ratchada Criminal Court, in front of the petrol station, as well as joined in the Stand-Stop-Detention protest.
Aunt Pao ultimately had to end the hunger strike on 30 April 2021 due to a high fever, coughing and severe sore throat, forcing her to intake food before taking medication to treat such ailments.
Method of hunger strike — Drink only water and milk.
Effects — Fatigue in the early days and stable conditions in following days, presumably due to her previous lean diet of one meal per day.
4. “Lertsak”: 11 days strike (26 April – 6 May 2021)
Lertsak Khamkongsak, leader of the Commoners’ Party, announced that he would take on a hunger strike from Samana Dao Din and Aunt Pao. He started fasting on the evening of 26 April 2021. Sitting at the entrance of the Criminal Court, he displayed the image of his hunger strike as a projection of the suffering endured by starving detainees who were denied bail. He intended to raise awareness of the situation, and campaigned in solidarity with detainees.
Lertsak ended his hunger strike on 6 May 2021 due to the harsh physical conditions and suffering his body was facing. Prior to stopping, he encouraged “Sun Talufa” to take on the hunger strike campaign.
Method of hunger strike — Drink only water, mineral drinks and protein shakes.
Effects — Fatigue and sharp stomach pain, especially on the sixth day of fasting. Lertsak alleviated the symptoms with antacids.
5. Patchanee Khamnhak: 5 days strike (2 – 6 May 2021)
Patchanee Khamnhak (female), a 45-year-old labour rights activist at the Socialist Labour Movement, was on a hunger strike from 2 to 6 May 2021 to call for the right to bail for political detainees in the Hunger strike with friends campaign.
Method of hunger strike — Drink only water, protein shakes, mineral drinks and sweet drinks such as matcha latte and Thai milk tea.
Effects — Mild fatigue, presumably from the effect of the heat as Patchanee was stationed in front of the Criminal Court throughout the hunger strike period.
6. “Sun” Talufah: 6 days strike (6 – 12 May 2021)
Nattaphon Choksawat or “Sun Talufa” (male), a 23-year-old activist, followed Lertsak’s and Patchanee’s footsteps in the “Hunger strike with friends” campaign. He started fasting in front of the Criminal Court, Bangkok, on 6 May 2021 to call for the right to bail for political detainees and, same as Lertsak, to raise awareness of the suffering endured by political detainees on hunger strike.
On 12 May 2021, upon finding blood-tinged sputum during morning wash-up, Natthaphon received a preliminary examination from a volunteer nursing unit in front of the Criminal Court. The results showed hypertension (high blood pressure). Natthaphon was then sent to the hospital for a thorough examination, effectively ending his hunger strike. The diagnosis suggested a small throat ulcer, likely caused by the excessive inhalation of dust and exhaust pipe smoke from a week-long fasting at the bus stop in front of the Criminal Court.
Method of hunger strike — Drink only water and mineral drinks, and stop all smoking and alcohol intake.
Effects — During the hunger strike: fatigue, decreased body control, confusion and delayed body responses; and after fasting: weight loss of about 8 kg. Natthaphon suffered severe health effects as he faced hypertension (high blood pressure) and hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol) prior to the hunger strike, to which doctors recommended against fasting.
7. Maythawee “May” Sithijirawattanakul
Maythawee “May” Sithijirawattanakul is the older sister of activist Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul’s. After Rung was detained and joined in the hunger strike with a fellow activist Penguin, Maythawee announced on 30 March 2021 that she would starve and suffer the pain in solidarity with her sister. For the first four days, Maythawee had one meal a day as a start. On the fourth day, she stopped intaking all food, only consuming water, sweet drinks and soy milk.“Once [my younger sister] Rung decided to go on a hunger strike, I didn’t know if she could endure it, what effects she’d face, what her limits were. So I decided: if [Rung] stops eating, [I] will starve with her. So that I knew what her body was facing, if there is stomach pain or exhaustion. So that I knew if my sister could still continue, still have enough energy [to go on], or if she already feels dizzy someday,” Maythawee told The Matter.