Thai mothers fight for their jailed children

Sureerat Chiwarak is the mother of a Thai student protest leader.

Her son, 22-year-old Parit Chiwarak, was jailed for insulting Thailand's powerful king.

So the mother shaved her head and began protesting for his release.

"The head shaving was just a start. I'm prepared to risk my life for his."

She’s now formed an alliance with other Thai mothers also searching for justice.

Holding cardboard cutouts of their children, they protest outside the courthouse.

"Everything that I'm doing is for my son. Never mess with anyone's kids because the power of a mother is terrifying. The power of mothers all over the world is terrifying. We are willing to sacrifice (ourselves)."

The protests in Thailand, which started last year, broke longstanding taboos by calling for reform of the monarchy... unprecedented demand in a country where insulting the king is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

Six young protest leaders, including Parit, remain in jail.

The court has repeatedly denied them bail, citing the severity of the charges against them. Parit was taken to hospital after nearly eight weeks of hunger strike.

The Royal Palace declined to comment but late last year, the king, in brief remarks on the protesters, said: "we love them all the same" and described Thailand as a land of compromise.

While the calls to reduce power have struck a chord with young activists, many Thais are devoted to the king and resent the protests.

Government officials have said criticism of the king is unlawful and inappropriate.

As for the mothers, they say their focus is simply the release of their children:

"My son is dying and I can't do anything about it. It's a terrible feeling. The people in power are letting my son die. I think they want to show people that they have the power to kill you if you don't obey."