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NGOs demand justice for Bung Sanesangkhom, call to end harassment against dissent in Thailand

International NGOs demand justice for Netiporn ‘Bung’ Sanesangkhom, urging Thailand to end the use of lèse-majesté law to suppress dissent and ensure political detainees’ rights.



Several prominent human rights organizations, including the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, Focus on the Global South, Front Line Defenders, and the Asia Democracy Network have expressed deep sorrow and outrage over the death of Netiporn ‘Bung’ Sanesangkhom, a young Thai activist renowned for her peaceful activism for justice and monarchy reform.

Bung was actively involved with Thalu Wang, a protest group advocating for the amendment of Thailand’s stringent royal defamation law, known as lèse-majesté.

This law has often been wielded to penalize any perceived slights against the Thai monarchy.

Her death occurred under distressing circumstances, suffering a cardiac arrest on 14 May 2024 while under the supervision of the Correctional Department, before she could be transferred from prison to Thammasat University Hospital in Pathum Thani.

The circumstances of Bung’s detention have drawn significant criticism.

On 26 January 2024, she was imprisoned for contempt of court, and on the same day, her bail for a separate lèse-majesté case from a 2022 protest was revoked.

Bung had been part of a peaceful demonstration where she displayed a banner questioning the disruption caused by royal motorcades, an act that led to her arrest under the controversial law.

In response to her incarceration, Bung initiated a partial hunger strike on 27 January 2024 to call for reforms in the justice system and to protest the silencing of dissenting voices through imprisonment.

Her death marks yet another tragic incident involving a detainee held under the lèse-majesté law, echoing the death of Amphon Tangnoppakhun in 2012 who died in prison under similar circumstances.

The collective statement from the NGOs highlighted that since November 2020, when mass protests demanding monarchy reform erupted, at least 272 individuals have been charged under the lèse-majesté law, as per records from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights.

The NGOs are now urging the Thai government to heed both domestic and international calls to repeal this law, which they argue is being used as a political tool against human rights defenders and critics.

Furthermore, these organizations are calling for an independent and transparent investigation into Bung’s death, demanding that autopsy results be made public promptly.

They are also advocating for the rights of political detainees to bail and urging support for the People’s Amnesty Bill, which aims to end politically motivated prosecutions in Thailand.

The international community is being encouraged to monitor the trials of those charged under the lèse-majesté law closely, to ensure that their fundamental rights are respected and upheld.

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