FORSEA, a network of Southeast Asian democrats and activists, strongly condemns the attack against a political activist, Sirawith “Ja New” Seritiwat, on 28 June 2019. The attack was orchestrated in broad daylight on a busy roadside, an act that suggests the four attackers were ‘confident’ to act in defiance of the law. This was not the first time Ja New was assaulted. On 2 June, less than a month before, he was attacked by five unidentified men at a bus stop on Ratchadapisek road in Bangkok. The most recent attack took place after Ja New participated in the signature collection campaign by the Startup People which urged senators to abstain from the election of the prime minister in parliament.
In the recent attack, Ja New was reported to have been brutally beaten with baseball bats, the result of which led to his immediate hospitalisation in the intensive care unit. He was said to be unresponsive, with external injuries including an orbital fracture, bleeding in the eyes and a broken nose. Quoted in the Bangkok Post, his mother reports that doctors are concerned about his sight because of the impact on the optic nerve.
This latest incident occurs just days before another political gathering to be hosted by Ja New on 29 June 2019. The attack was deemed to stop him from organizing such event.
The attacks against Ja New add to a long list of violent acts against political activists in the past years. These political activists have been promoting democracy in the age of the military rule.
The fact that no attackers have been arrested up to this point seems to indicate the military’s involvement in such a virulent attacked against them, including Ja New.
The space for political expression has been shrinking in Thailand. The culture of impunity is prevailing. Although there is a new government in Thailand, the political violence, as evident in the case of Ja New, has not subsided.
FORSEA calls for the government of Thailand to show its commitment to provide safety to public, especially its critics.
In this case, it is very important that the government must arrest those attackers. Failing to so will only further testify the direct involvement of the government in the attack against its own people.
Banner image:from @NuttaaBow Twitter account