BANGKOK — Daranee Charnchoengsilpakul, one of the earliest voices to protest the 2006 coup that brought down the elected government, died of cancer earlier this week, her family said.
Best known for her fiery speeches denouncing those in power, which earned her the nickname of ‘Da Torpedo,’ Daranee was 62 when she passed away on Thursday.
Daranee developed cancer while she was imprisoned for defaming the monarchy in her political speeches, those close to her said.
She was a former newspaper reporter at Phim Thai newspaper and Sky TV cable television, but her rise to fame came in 2006 when she joined protests against a military coup that brought down the government of PM Thaksin Shinawatra.
At the time when rallies and marches were staged without support from major political parties, Daranee soon attracted admirers for her pull-no-punch style in speeches. She also made a name for often referencing the monarchy – a habit that worried her fellow activists.
It was in 2008 that police filed royal defamation charges, aka lese majeste, against her for the speeches she made in Sanam Luang, a stone throw away from the Grand Palace. She was convicted and sent to jail, though she was pardoned and released in 2016.
Her worsening health conditions prevented her from an active return to political activism. Somyot Pruksakasemsuk, an activist who was also jailed for lese majeste, wrote on Facebook Thursday that Daranee did not taste freedom outside prison for long before she passed away.
Pheu Thai politician and physician Pongsak Phusitsakul visited and assisted Daranee on health issues while she was imprisoned. Pongsak said the anti-government community provided her with financial support after she was released from prison, but Daranee also tried to make a living by selling goods.
Daranee’s funeral rites are held at Wat Thevasunthorn in Chatuchak district. The cremation ceremony will take place on Sunday at 3pm.