A family member of detained activist Thatchapong or Chatchai Kaedam, who recently tested positive for Covid-19, said that his condition has not improved, and his family and lawyer were not able to speak to his doctor or obtain information on his condition.
Tawatchai Chaiwat, Deputy Director-General and spokesperson of the Department of Corrections, said on Tuesday (31 August) that Thatchapong’s condition has not worsened as previously reported. While he has a fever, he has no breathing issues. He is able to eat and sleep normally, and his blood oxygen level is normal.
However, Pavinee Chanchuea, one of Thatchapong’s relatives, said that the information she received from Thatchapong when she visited and spoke to him via teleconference did not match the information from the Department of Corrections.
She said that Thatchapong told her that his condition has neither worsened nor improved. He is coughing more, and has difficulty breathing. Doctors have now prescribed him the antiviral medication Faviparavir, often used to treat Covid-19 patients.
Thatchapong also needs a ventilator while sleeping and after physical activities. He also said he has high blood pressure, a low platelet count, and a weakened immune system that puts him at risk of infection. Pavinee said that this information was not included in the Department of Corrections’ press releases, and she only found out because Thatchapong’s doctor informed him.
Pavinee also said that neither she nor Thatchapong’s lawyer have been able to speak to Thatchapong’s doctor. She also said that corrections officials did not inform detainees of their blood oxygen levels. Student activist Parit Chiwarak, who is currently being treated at the Medical Correctional Institution with Thatchapong, asked to know the numbers but was not given the information, so she does not know what the department meant by ‘normal’.
She also said that requesting medical information and documentation took a long time. Pavinee found it unusual that it took weeks to get Thatchapong’s medical record and medical certificate. She questioned why these processes take so long.
Pavinee noted that the Department of Corrections seemed to be trying to conceal information on political prisoners’ condition from their families. When Thatchapong was transferred to the Medical Correctional Institution on 24 August, he received a chest x-ray. The doctor informed his family that his x-ray result was normal, but when she visited Thatchapong on the afternoon of 25 August, he said that the doctor told him that his lungs were infected. The Department of Corrections also did not issue a press release about this until 29 August, 4 days after the family was informed of the x-ray result.
Pavinee said she is concerned about Thatchapong’s condition, since he has not improved. She said that families of detained activists are now discussing ways of responding to the Department of Corrections’ communication issues.
Thatchapong is one of the activists detained on 9 August on charges relating to the protest in front of the Border Patrol Police Region 1 headquarters on 2 August 2021 to demand the release of 32 detained activists. He was charged with violating the Emergency Decree, the Communicable Diseases Act, and the Sound Amplifier Act.
Activists Parit Chiwarak, Nutchanon Pairoj, Sirichai Natueng, Phromsorn Weerathamjaree, Panupong Jadnok, Thanapat Kapeng, Panadda Sirimasakul, and Sam Samat were also arrested in connection with the same protest. Meanwhile, activist and human rights lawyer Anon Nampa was denied bail on 12 August after being arrested on a royal defamation charge after his speech at the second Harry Potter protest on 3 August 2021 at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC).
Activists Jatupat “Pai Dao Din” Boonpattararaksa, Thawee Thiangwiset, Songpol Sonthirak, Nawapol Ton-ngam, and Chitrin Plakangtong, members of the activist group Thalufah, were also arrested on charges relating to an incident on 3 August, for splashing paint in front of Thung Song Hong Police Station. This followed their release after a night in detention on charges relating to a protest at the Narcotics Suppression Bureau on 2 August to demand the return of a speaker truck seized after the 1 August ‘car mob’ rally. Nawapol and Chitrin were not detained, while Tawee and Songpol were later granted bail. However, Jatupat was denied bail on the grounds that he faces other charges for similar offenses, has broken his bail conditions which prohibit him from repeating these offenses, and is likely to flee or cause danger if he is released.
Anon, Jatupat, Parit, Phromsorn, Nutchanon, Panupong, and Thatchapong have been repeatedly denied bail and remain in detention.
Seven of the 11 detained activists have tested positive for Covid-19 since their detention: Parit, Sirichai, Sam, Phromsorn, Panupong, Thatchapong, and Jatupat. Thanapat also tested positive for Covid-19 after he was granted bail. Meanwhile, Sam and Sirichai were granted bail on 27 August and were transferred to a hospital.