Victim almost killed by a May bullet gets compensation of 2,800

Somphan Phuthajak, 39, was shot in the back during the unrest on 15 May last year, was hospitalized for two weeks, and took another 4 months to recover.  She has received 2,800 baht in medical compensation from the Rights and Liberty Protection Department of the Ministry of Justice.

Somphan was shot at Bon Kai on Rama IV Rd, while she and her husband were trying to find a way to join other red shirts at Ratchaprasong.

Her husband Suwan Thabthong said that the compensation was too little for her injury which had already prevented her from working for 8 months. 

The Department asked him to get another medical certificate which specified the estimated duration of her treatment and recovery, but the doctor at Rajvithi Hospital refused to issue this, saying that it could not be specified, he said.  

The medical certificate issued by the hospital says that a bullet hit Somphan in the left side of her back, injuring the small intestine, pancreas, liver, and kidney. She underwent an operation and was hospitalized from 15-31 May 2010.

Somphan, a mother of three, said that previously she had had no interest in politics and had never joined any rally, until her sister from upcountry asked her to meet at Phan Fah bridge.  That was her first time to join a rally and, she then thought, the only time.

Later, when she found that news reports about the red-shirt rallies were not accurate, she went back again.  She was also an admirer of Thaksin Shinawatra.

On the day that she was shot, she heard the news that the military were about to disperse the protesters.  She and her husband tried to get to Ratchaprasong intersection, but got stuck at Bon Kai.  After a while, she got separated from her husband and went looking for him.  When she walked into a crowd gathered under the express way, someone shouted to the others to crouch down as the troops started to open fire.

‘I was shot in the back before I even managed to crouch down.  I felt something piercing through my back. I could not open my eyes and felt pain.  I heard someone keep calling me to stay conscious for fear that I would die on the way to the hospital,’ Somphan recalled.

Her husband said that after they got lost, he tried to look for her and made several calls to her mobile phone.  Someone picked up her phone and found that it was damaged, so he put her SIM card into his phone.  That person told Suwan that a woman had been shot and taken to the hospital.  Suwan finally found her at Rajvithi Hospital.

‘When I got to the ICU at the hospital, a doctor told me to compose myself because my wife would probably not survive, as the bullet had destroyed her internal organs.  All that I could do was to pray for her, and my prayers came true,’ Suwan said.

Two weeks after the operation, Somphan was dismissed from hospital, despite the fact that she had just been able to eat her first meal after vomiting all the time.  And despite his insistence to have her further hospitalized, the doctor told him that his wife could go home.

He said that he then had to take care of everything including the household chores, their children and his wife, so he was unable to work as a driver and lost income. His car was repossessed, and his children’s tuition fees went unpaid.

They have missed some medical appointments due to the lack of money.

Now Somphan can eat more food and help herself, but according to doctors her condition is still serious because her internal organs have been severely damaged.