Family claims body of child rally victim

BANGKOK - Relatives yesterday collected from Rayong Hospital the body of Natchaya Rosungnern, who was pronounced dead on Tuesday from injuries inflicted when unknown attackers hurled grenades and fired shots at a rally site in Trat.

Meanwhile, Bangkok's Queen Sirikit National Institute of Child Health (Children's Hospital) and 43 children's organisations have separately called for children to be protected from hate speech and what they might see and hear at rally sites.

Natchaya was the second fatality from the attack against the anti-government rally in Trat's Khao Saming district on Saturday night. The first victim, also a 5-year-old girl, was pronounced dead on Sunday. Apart from the two girls, 33 other people were injured in the attack.

Natchaya's aunt Nareumon Rosungnern, on behalf of the family, was presented with 11,370 baht ($442) in cash donations from Rayong's Southerners' Club and Mae Daeng Market.

Nareumon said the girl's parents Chankham Somsati and Anek Rosungnern were in deep grief and couldn't go to the hospital. She urged police to speedily arrest the assailants. Nareumon said funeral rites would be held at Wat Boploy in Bo Rai district for five days before cremation.

Natchaya's grandmother Uthai Posayabutr, 65, said she and Natchaya attended the rally and stopped by a noodle shop on the way home when the attack took place.

Meanwhile, 43 children's organisations have condemned the violent incidents that have killed a total of four children, and urged the police chief to see that the wrongdoers are punished.

At the Thai Journalists Association office, Suthatip Thajchayapong read a statement from the group about the weekend attacks in Trat and Bangkok's Rajaprasong intersection. Offering condolences to the families, the group condemned those who carried out such attacks, and urged state officials to see that the wrongdoers are punished, while also implementing remedial measures for the damaged parties. The group also urged parents not to take children to rally sites and urged the organisers to prioritise safety.

Public Health Ministry Mental Health Department expert Dr Yong-yuth Wongpiromsan said children perceived information differently from adults. Hence, children at rallies would absorb violence - like hateful speech or weapons use - rather than any desirable messages advocating democracy or good citizenship. This could lead to violent copycat behaviour later.

In the meantime, Children's Hospital director Siraporn Sawas-divorn said the hospital wanted all sides to stop the violence and realise that it could mean assaulting or taking the life of innocent people.

Second, the hospital wanted parents not to take children to rally sites, as it could expose the kids to hate speech that could eventually affect their thinking and personality. Third, the hospital wanted everyone to protect children.

Siraporn explained that children learn more from copying behaviour rather than hearing parents' teachings. As a result all acts would be observed and remembered by the kids, even if they didn't know the meaning of such talk or action. Children responded to emotion and tone of voice, so they should be controlled near young ones.