A 64-year-old man who was shot in the head with a rubber bullet during police dispersal of a protest at the Din Daeng Intersection on 15 August 2021 has died after being paralyzed by his injury.
Mana Hongthong lived in an apartment building in the Din Daeng area. He did not participate in the 15 August 2021 protest, but was shot in the head on his way home with a rubber bullet while crowd control police were dispersing the protesters. His injury paralyzed him and he has had to be cared for by his family for the past 6 months.
Mana died on Saturday (5 March 2022). His family was told that the cause of death was Covid-19, but his nephew, Ekkarin Hongthong, 43, said that the family still has questions about this.
Ekkarin said that he is not sure how his uncle contracted Covid-19, since he had not gone anywhere, and no one else in the family has the virus. During the autopsy, doctors tested Mana’s body for Covid-19 and got a positive result, but none of his family members tested positive for the virus.
He said that before Mana’s death, he refused to take his medicines, and would not eat anything but snacks and water. According to Ekkarin, Mana showed no other suspicious symptoms, and was acting normal on Saturday morning (5 March 2022), before family members found him unresponsive around 12.00.
Ekkarin said that his uncle’s disability is the result of the police operation, since he was able to live normally before he was shot, and that no government agency has provided them with assistance or compensation.
“After it happened, I called the police headquarters and the Ministry of Justice, but I was brushed off. The Damrongtham Center also turned us away. We have to file charges, but we don’t know how to do it,” said Ekkarin.
Ekkarin said that the family tried their best to take care of Mana, even though they were also hit by the economic decline during the Covid-19 pandemic. He said that his mother is old and finds walking difficult, but she had to carry her brother when no one else was home, which he said affected his family’s lives.
“My uncle had a normal life like other people. Even though there was Covid, he was able to earn some income working around Ratchawat, and came home late every day, but he was injured in a situation controlled by state officials. I’m not saying that it’s a bullet or anything, but what upset his life came from the control of state officials, which [the government] should help and find justice for this incident,” Ekkarin said.