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Young Thai activist’s death in detention after 65-day hunger strike sparks calls for justice reform


A young activist jailed for insulting Thailand’s monarchy died on Tuesday following a prolonged hunger strike, officials said, prompting an outpouring of grief and renewed calls for justice reform in the Southeast Asian kingdom

Netiporn “Bung” Sanesangkhom, 28, died after suffering a “sudden cardiac arrest,” Thailand’s Corrections Department said in a statement. A medical team tried to resuscitate her before transferring her to Bangkok’s Thammasat University Hospital but she “did not respond to treatment,” the department said.

An autopsy will be conducted to determine the cause of death, the department added.

Netiporn was a member of protest group Thalu Wang, which has pushed for reform of Thailand’s powerful monarchy and amendment of the country’s draconian lese majeste law, in which criticizing the king, queen, or heir apparent can lead to a maximum 15-year prison sentence.

The group’s name loosely translates to “piercing through the palace,” in reference to its drive to hold the monarchy accountable; it campaigns by holding public opinion polls questioning the monarchy’s power.

Netiporn had been part of the nationwide 2020 youth-led protests that saw millions of young Thais take to the streets of major cities calling for constitutional, democratic and military reforms, and, for the first time, openly criticizing the monarchy and publicly questioning its power and wealth.

She had been in jail since January 26 and was awaiting trial, according to legal advocacy group Thai Lawyers for Human Rights.

While in detention, Netiporn went on a 65-day hunger strike until April to protest the jailing of political dissidents without bail, the group said. During this time, she had been moved back and forth to the