Updated: LM is just alright, oh yeah

30 01 2023

We read this from Pravit Rojanaphruk and were dismayed. Pravit writes of the hunger strike by Tantawan Tuatulanon and Orawan Phuphong. He states:

The two young activists issued three lofty demands: justice system reform, release of all political prisoners, and for all political parties to call for the abolition of both the lese majeste and sedition laws.

Ten days have passed and none of their demands have been met. Yet as of press time, they insist on continuing their hunger strike, adamant that, if need be, they are willing to sacrifice their lives for the cause they believe in.

He continues, pleading:

Time is of the essence and people who have good ties with the two and their respect should immediately meet them at the hospital to try to convince them that their demands will most unlikely be met in the foreseeable future and they should end the hunger strike and carry on a fight in a more protracted manner.

And he opines:

It may take many years, no, decades more, but we cannot expect Thai society to produce an immediate consensus particularly on the status of the lese majeste law by having someone threaten to sacrifice their live, if all political parties do not support the abolition of the law. We need more talks to convince the unconvinced and it cannot be achieved through a hunger strike. This is where Tawan and Bam, no matter how well intended, got it wrong.

Talks for decades….

Hunger strikes are a longstanding political protest, used by many. Nelson Mandela went on a hunger strike when imprisoned and he also intervened to seek a negotiated settlement with the apartheid government in another instance of a hunger strike by political prisoners.  Gandhi is listed as having used it at least 18 times.

Ironically, Mandela and Gandhi sometimes got far better responses from the racist South African and British colonial state than these brave and principled young women get from the military-monarchy regime.

We recall a recent book on the history of hunger strikes, Refusal to Eat A Century of Prison Hunger Strikes by Nayan Shah. Its promotional material states:

The power of the hunger strike lies in its utter simplicity. The ability to choose to forego eating is universally accessible, even to those living under conditions of maximal constraint, as in the prisons of apartheid South Africa, Israeli prisons for Palestinian prisoners, and the detention camp at Guantánamo Bay. It is a weapon of the weak, potentially open to all. By choosing to hunger strike, a prisoner wields a last-resort personal power that communicates viscerally, in a way that is undeniable—especially when broadcast over prison barricades through media and to movements outside.

It is an expression of exasperation, often when other means of protest and negotiation are closed or unavailable. It is often a last-ditch effort for change.

By intervening in this manner, it seems another media capitulation, handing the regime a free pass for “years, no, decades…”. The result was that we had an old song ringing in our ears, with apologies to the Doobie Brothers and Arthur Reynolds:

… LM is just alright with meLM is just alright, oh yeahLM is just alright with meLM is just alright
I don’t care what they may sayI don’t care what they may doI don’t care what they may sayLM is just alright, oh yeahLM is just alright….
LM is just alright with meLM is just alright, oh yeahLM is just alright with meLM is just alright
I don’t care what they may knowI don’t care where they may goI don’t care what they may knowLM is just alright, oh yeah
LM, He’s my friendLM, He’s my friend….
Update: Above, we made a few changes to spacing and finished a couple of sentences. Sadly, our point about wretched regimes negotiating with hunger strikers on their demands, but not in Thailand, Thai PBS reports that the “Criminal Court has rejected bail applications for ten ‘political’ prisoners and detainees on the grounds that most of them have been charged with serious offenses, which range from possession of explosives, arson and causing damage to public property to inciting unrest and lèse majesté…”. We note the newspaper’s unwillingness to acknowledge political prisoners.



2 responses

2 02 2023
Pushing forward on 112 | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] who have opposed the hunger strike by Tantawan Tuatulanon and Orawan Phuphong in favor of glacial change (maybe) might be scratching […]

11 02 2023
Brave women III | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] the angst of some, the brave and determined hunger strike by Tantawan Tuatulanon and Orawan Phuphong is producing […]

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