Din Daeng crackdown victim’s sister files complaint over brother’s death

The sister of a man who died after being paralyzed by a shot in the head with a rubber bullet has filed a complaint with the police calling for an investigation into her brother’s death.

Phanni Hongthong (centre) and lawyer Koriyo Manusae (right) (Picture from iLaw)

Phanni Hongthong, sister of Mana Hongthong, 64, who died after spending 6 months paralyzed from being shot in the head with a rubber bullet during police dispersal of a protest at the Din Daeng Intersection on 15 August 2021, went to Din Daeng Police Station yesterday (31 March) to file a complaint against officials responsible for her brother’s death.

Phanni said that Mana previously made a living repairing electronics. On 15 August 2021, he was going home after visiting her, but the road in front of his apartment building was closed, so he had to get off the bus at the next stop, near Victory Monument, and walk back on Mitmaitri Road.

During the police operation on the 15 August 2021 protest, at least 6 people were reported to have been injured, including Mana. Crowd control police fired rubber bullets at 3 people on Mitmaitri Road. A 15-year-old was also shot, as well as a man who lives in the Din Daeng apartments and was shot after he shouted at crowd control officers asking them not to use tear gas.

Eyewitnesses said Mana was found unconscious in front of the Government Savings Bank on Mitmaitri Road. Phanni said that she saw video footage of the incident, which showed a rescue worker riding a motorcycle past Mana before returning in full PPE suit.

Rescue personnel found that Mana has injuried consistent with a rubber bullet wound to the head. He was taken to Rajavithi Hospital, where he stayed for a month. Phanni said that although the family was not responsible for his medical fees when he was at the hospital, there were other expenses, such as diapers.

Mana was later released from hospital but was still paralysed. Phanni said that the family did not have the money to buy a proper bed for him, and that he could not communicate beyond isolated words. He also could not remember anything that happened on 15 August.

The family would like the police to investigate Mana’s shooting and press charges against those responsible, including official misconduct charges and any other charges that may arise from the inquiry.

Lawyer Koriyo Manusae said that it is unclear who shot Mana, but it is possible that the bullet was fired by an officer, since officers were armed and were operating in the area at the time. Rubber bullets are also not something a private citizen can possess, so she speculates that the perpetrator must be an armed officer. She also noted that the family has never received any compensation after Mana’s injury and death.

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