Thailand: Death in detention of pro-democracy activist Netiporn “Bung” Sanesangkhom

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On May 14, 2024, Netiporn “Bung” Sanesangkhom, 28, a member of the pro-democracy group Thalu Wang, died while in pre-trial detention on charges of violating Article 112 of Thailand’s Criminal Code (lèse-majesté). The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (FIDH-OMCT), the Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF) and Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) are deeply saddened by her senseless death, which underscores the deep flaws in Thailand’s judicial and penitentiary systems.

Paris - Geneva - Bangkok, May 16, 2024 – Netiporn “Bung” Sanesangkhom was reported to have suffered a cardiac arrest while in custody of the Department of Corrections on the morning of May 14, 2024. She became unconscious at the Department of Corrections Hospital in Bangkok before being transferred to Thammasat University Hospital in Pathumthani Province, where she was later pronounced dead at 11:22am.

Since January 26, 2024, Ms. Netiporn had been detained at the Central Women’s Correctional Institution in Bangkok, after the Bangkok South Criminal Court found her guilty of contempt of court and sentenced her to one month in prison in relation to a physical altercation with the Court’s security personnel on October 19, 2023. The incident occurred while she and other Thalu Wang members were attending the verdict hearing in a lèse-majesté case against another pro-democracy activist.

On the same day, the Bangkok South Criminal Court revoked Ms. Netiporn’s bail in a lèse-majesté case [1] originating from a public opinion poll on royal motorcades conducted by her and other Thalu Wang activists at Bangkok’s Siam Paragon shopping mall on February 8, 2022. The Court ruled that Ms. Netiporn violated her bail conditions by spraying paint onto the Queen’s flag during a peaceful demonstration in front of the Ministry of Culture in Bangkok on August 6, 2023.

On January 27, 2024, Ms. Netiporn commenced a dry hunger strike to demand judicial reform and the cessation of imprisonment of individuals for expressing dissenting opinions. Due to her deteriorating health, she was transferred to medical facilities several times. She resumed drinking water in February 2024 and eating in April 2024. Prior to her death, on April 4, 2024, she had been receiving treatment at the Department of Corrections Hospital in Bangkok for her deteriorating health as a result of the hunger strike.

Ms. Netiporn had previously undertaken a hunger strike in 2022 while held in pre-trial detention at the Central Women’s Correctional Institution in connection with the opinion poll case, alongside fellow Thalu Wang activist Natthanit “Baipor” Duangmusit. Despite their deteriorating health, their requests for bail were repeatedly denied until August 4, 2022. They had initiated the hunger strike on June 2, 2022, to protest their detention.

Ms. Netiporn was a prominent activist who advocated for LGBTIQ+ and youth rights in 2020-2021. She then joined the pro-democracy group Thalu Wang (“shattering the palace”), where she actively engaged in conducting public opinion polls regarding the Thai monarchy. Her political activism was met with repeated prosecutions since 2021, including two cases under Article 112.

Between November 24, 2020 and May 16, 2024, at least 272 individuals, including many human rights defenders and 20 minors, were charged under Article 112. Eighteen of them are currently detained pending trial, and seven are serving prison sentences, including Anon Nampa, a prominent pro-democracy activist and human rights lawyer who was found guilty under Article 112 for the third time on April 29, 2024, and is now serving a total prison term of 10 years and 20 days.

The Observatory, CrCF, and TLHR express their deepest sorrow over the death of Netiporn Sanesangkhom and urge the Thai government and relevant authorities, namely the Department of Corrections, the Office of the Attorney General, and the police, to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation to determine the cause and circumstances of her death.

Furthermore, the organisations call for the immediate and unconditional release of all detained pro-democracy activists and human rights defenders, including those held under Article 112. The organisations also urge the Thai government to refrain from arresting, prosecutin, and detaining human rights defenders under Article 112 for exercising their fundamental right to freedom of opinion and expression.

Additionally, the organisations urge the Thai government to amend Article 112 to bring it into line with Thailand’s human rights obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).


The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

The Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF) was founded in 2002. It works on justice and the protection, promotion and monitoring of human rights in Thailand. CrCF’s philosophy and activities are focused on strengthening human rights and delivering sustainable judicial reform throughout society. Particular emphasis is placed on marginalised people including ethnic minority groups, stateless people, migrant workers and the victims of conflict.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights was established on 24 May 2014, two days following the coup in 2014, by a group of human rights lawyers and social activists. Initially as an ad-hoc organisation, TLHR aimed to provide legal and litigation assistance to individuals who had been summoned, arrested, and detained by the military as a result of the 2014 coup.

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