Activist’s death holds a mirror up to Thai society: Watanya


Democrat politician calls for greater tolerance after Netiporn dies in detention following hunger strike

The Democrat Party’s Watanya “Dear” Bunnag said the death in custody of a young activist campaigning for lese majeste law reform should encourage Thai society to be more tolerant of different opinions.

Netiporn “Bung” Sanesangkhom was pronounced dead at Thammasat Hospital at 11.22am on Tuesday after suffering a cardiac arrest just over three months since starting a hunger strike.

Watanya responded by posting on Facebook that denying someone justice simply because they hold different views is not legitimate.


An activist with the Thalu Wang (Through the Palace) group, Netiporn had been in custody since January 26. She launched a hunger strike to demand reform of the justice system after being detained on January 27 and denied bail. She was originally detained and charged with lese majeste for conducting a public poll on royal motorcades in 2022. Thailand’s lese majeste law, Article 112, is considered one of the world’s harshest laws against royal criticism or insult as it carries punishment of up to 15 years in jail. 

“Justice does not belong to particular people but should apply to us all equally when we enter the justice system,” Watanya said.

“Holding different views should not be a reason for being pressured into a desire to die, nor should it result in unequal access to the justice system.”

Watanya said Netiporn’s death should prompt Thais to ask themselves how they can help society open up to different opinions.

She said Thais should ponder how to make their society a place where people listen to one another with respect and equality.