Thai anti-military activist attacked and left unconscious
BANGKOK (AP) — A Thai activist who opposes the military’s role in politics was assaulted Friday and left unconscious in the second attack on him this month, as violence against pro-democracy advocates becomes more aggressive.
Sirawith Seritiwat was attacked before noon by four men who used baseball bats to hit him in the head and left him unconscious on a sidewalk near his home in Bangkok. The attackers rode motorcycles without license plates and wore helmets as they attacked Sirawith, according to a lawyers’ group and the activist’s mother.
Thailand’s military seized power in a 2014 coup and has cracked down on dissent while failing to investigate violence against critics. The junta enacted new election laws that favored its leader, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, in elections in March.
The attack left Sirawith with a fractured eye socket and head injuries, said Sirawith’s mother, Patnaree Chankij. She said Sirawith was hospitalized and regained consciousness late in the afternoon.
Sirawith, widely known as Ja New, was previously attacked on June 3 by at least five men after he had been working on a campaign to petition members of the junta-appointed Senate not to vote for Prayuth to become prime minister.
Patnaree told reporters that her son had called her Thursday night to tell her that he had been warned about another imminent attack.
“We are more than just fearful now,” Patnaree said by phone from the hospital.
“When I arrived at the hospital, he was already in a hospital gown but I saw that his shirt that they took off him was covered with blood,” she said.
Other pro-democracy activists have been attacked by assailants who have never been investigated or arrested.
Activist Anurak Jeantawanich said he was attacked in May by a group of 6-8 men, some wearing motorcycle helmets and using metal bars to hit his head, after he announced a plan to protest the election of the pro-army speaker of the lower house of Parliament.
Another activist, Ekachai Hongkangkwan, faced physical abuse by attackers on several occasions in addition to having his parked car set on fire twice.
Prayuth, the 2014 coup leader, was elected prime minister in a June 6 parliamentary vote whose outcome was virtually assured because the junta-appointed Senate took part with the elected lower house.
His opponent, anti-military candidate Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, condemned the attack on Sirawith.
“How many other times do events like this need to happen?” he wrote in a post. “How many other times do we have to tolerate seeing brave individuals who stand up for justice face savage attacks without anyone taking responsibility? Don’t let it be your children’s turn before you feel that this is an injustice.”