BANGKOK – A pro-democracy activist was badly beaten in Bangkok on Friday by a group of unidentified people, the second such attack on him in a month, amid a wave of violence against Thai activists and dissidents.
Four people wearing helmets repeatedly hit Sirawith Seritiwat (known as Ja New) with sticks, due to which he suffered bleeding and bruising to an eye, as well as his nose and head. He was admitted to the intensive care unit of a hospital, according to Democracy Restoration Group.
Sirawith’s mother Patnaree Chankij told EFE her son’s nose and eye have to be operated on.
Rangsiman Rome, friend of the activist and member of the opposition Anakot Mai (Future Forward) party, said he was certain the incident was politically motivated and related to Sirawith’s activism against the military junta that seized power in a 2014 coup.
Sirawith, 27, who holds a degree in political science, was also attacked on June 2 by unknown people after attending an event in Bangkok to collect signatures against Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha.
The activist was detained in 2016 for taking part in peaceful protests against the military government, and has several pending cases of sedition and other charges against him due to his activism.
In May, another two activists – Anurak “Ford” Jeantawanich and Ekachai Hongkangwan – were injured after being attacked by six unidentified persons on motorbikes.
The police are yet to make any arrests in relation to these attacks.
The nonprofit Human Rights Watch has denounced the persecution of dissidents in Thailand and has urged the authorities to safeguard freedom of expression and provide a secure environment for activists.
HRW has also denounced the disappearance of at least five Thai activists in Laos, two of whom were found murdered in the Mekong River. Meanwhile, the whereabouts of another three dissidents remain unknown after they were allegedly extradited to Thailand by Vietnam.
Both Vietnam and Thailand have denied detaining the activists or having them in custody.
Persecution of political opposition and activists has worsened since the 2014 coup, led by Prayut.
Prayut became prime minister again on June 5 after being elected by parliament, following general elections in March, which were criticized by several international observers for restrictions on the opposition.