Anti-junta activist stricken by fever after 9 days of hunger strike

Pro-democracy activists and lecturers visited a well-known anti-junta activist from Isaan, Thailand’s northeast, who has been stricken with a fever after more than a week of hunger striking behind bars.

Chaturapat Boonyapatraksa, 25 and a youth activist from the New Democracy Movement (NDM), is being detained at Phu Khiao District Prison in the Isaan province of Chaiyaphum.

Around 40 lecturers from Naresuan University and activists from Dao Din, a youth activist group based in Khon Kaen University, visited Chaturapat on Monday, 15 August 2016.

Chaturapat was arrested together with Wasin Prommanee, 20, another youth activist, on 6 August for distributing NDM anti-constitution flyers. Wasin was later freed on bail while Chaturapat refused to submit a bail request. He vowed to go on a hunger strike to protest Thailand’s broken justice system.   

For refusing to cooperate with police to put their thumbprints on police documents, the two are accused of breaking Article 61 of the controversial Public Referendum Act and Announcement No. 25/2006 of the Council of Democratic Reform (CDR), the 2006 coup-makers

The authorities only allowed 10 of the activists and lecturers to visit Chaturapat, for a period of about only 15 minutes. They prohibited the activists from staging any activity in front of the prison.

The visitors reported that Chaturapat has developed a fever and was only semi-conscious last night. The detained NDM activist was given Paracetamol to curb the fever.

Last week, Chaturapat and Wasin wrote a joint letter about the results of the 7 August referendum stating that they respect the decision of the majority to pass the draft constitution, but not the legitimacy of the Thai junta.

“We are mature enough to respect the decision of the people who are the owners of the country and we are mature enough not do what the junta did to the 2007 constitution,” reads the statement of the two.

They added in the letter “this does not mean that we accept the dictatorial power of the regime. Public participation means not only a public referendum, but also that people must participate in the process of drafting the constitution.”

Under the controversial Article 61 of the Referendum Act, anyone who publishes or distributes content about the draft constitution that deviates from the facts, contains rude and violent language, or threateningly discourages voters from participating in the referendum, could face up to 10 years imprisonment, a fine of up to 200,000 baht and loss of electoral rights for five years.

Pro-democracy activists gather at Phu Khiao District Prison on 15 August 2016 in the Isaan province of Chaiyaphum to visit Chaturapat and demand for his release

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