A Thai court on Thursday granted bail to a prominent pro-democracy protest leader who has reportedly been on hunger strike for over a month.
Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, more commonly known by her nickname Rung, faces nine charges of insulting the monarchy over her role in protests last year that rocked Bangkok.
She was freed with a bail bond of $6,500 and ordered not to leave the country or take part in “activities deemed to dishonour the monarchy”, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, which is representing her, said.
Panusaya is one of a trio of prominent activists charged under Thailand’s strict royal defamation laws over a rally in downtown Bangkok in September.
Panusaya had been in jail awaiting trial since 8 March and on Monday the United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration, one of the main groups behind last year’s protests, posted on Facebook that she had been on hunger strike for 35 days.
Another hunger-striking protest leader who has repeatedly been refused bail, Parit Chiwarak, was taken for hospital treatment last month after losing 12 kilos in a fortnight.
At their peak, the protests saw tens of thousands of people mass in the streets of the Thai capital demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha’s government and a new constitution.
But the movement broke long-held taboos by calling for reforms to the monarchy, in a country where the royal family is considered untouchable and has been treated with reverence for decades.
The movement has dwindled since the new year amid increasing restrictions due to a rise in coronavirus cases, but continues to flare up occasionally.
On Sunday hundreds of protesters demanding the release of political detainees hurled red paint, tomatoes and eggs at the Bangkok Criminal Court, where Thursday’s bail hearing took place.