BANGKOK — A prominent activist remains hospitalized Monday after being attacked by a group of men while leaving an anti-junta protest yesterday.
The assault on Sirawith “Ja New” Seritiwat prompted political parties opposed to the junta to issue statements of condemnation. Sirawith is the third activist to be targeted by unidentified assailants since early May, in a pattern seen by junta opponents as an attempt to silence their campaigns.
“Ja New is the latest victim. Their only crime is calling for a fair society without the means to defend themselves,” Future Forward chairman Thanathorn Juangroogruangkit wrote on Twitter. “Don’t wait until your own children are in line to realize this is injustice. Enough with the coup regime’s barbaric brutality.”
Pheu Thai sec-gen Phumtham Wechayachai said the attack was engineered by powerful figures “in order to keep themselves and their cliques in power.”
“Will Thai society never have a space for those who have different thoughts?” Phumtham wrote online.
Sirawith said he was attacked by a group of men wielding sticks on Ratchadapisek Road last night. The 27-year-old activist said the men chased him down shortly after he left a rally organized to call upon the junta-appointed senate to refrain from intervening when parliament convenes to select a new prime minister on Wednesday.
Sirawith said he tried to flee but tripped on the pavement’s uneven ground before the men surrounded him and repeatedly beat his head. The attackers reportedly fled after bystanders noticed the commotion.
He was later sent by rescue workers to a hospital. In a live video today, Sirawith said he is still suffering from acute pain in his head and suggested the assailants might have had fatal intentions.
“Let me tell my ambushers here that I will file a charge of attempted murder,” he said from his hospital bed. “They only aimed for my head and temple. I could have died.”
Less than two weeks ago, another activist was assaulted in a similar manner. Anurak “Ford” Jeantawanich said he required eight stitches after six men beat him with wooden sticks close to his home on May 25.
On May 13, pro-democracy activist Ekachai Hongkangwan was also punched in front of a court after leaving a protest. The attackers in those two cases remain unidentified.