SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: May 28, 2018

Attack Types: Prosecution

Institution(s):Chulalongkorn University | Thammasat University

Region & Country:Southeastern Asia | Thailand

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On May 28, 2018, student activists Parit Chiwarak and Tanawat Wongchai were reportedly summoned by police for questioning after organizing a protest at a local shopping mall.

Wongchai, vice president of the Chulalongkorn University student union, and Chiwarak, a well-known student activist from Thammasat University, organized what they called a “noodle protest,” in which protesters gathered and ate instant noodles or other inexpensive foods to symbolize poverty — as Wongchai explained, “to rehearse starvation” — demanding that the government set a date for an election. Several protesters reportedly joined Wongchai and Chiwarak in the mall, before police demanded that they disperse, claiming they were in violation of a law that prohibits within 150 meters of a royal residence. According to Wongchai, he and Chirawak were later summoned to Patumwan police station for questioning. Police reportedly decided later not to press charges against the two student activists.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about investigations or other criminal actions against students in apparent retaliation for the nonviolent exercise of the right to free expression and association. State authorities have a responsibility not to interfere with the rights to freedom of expression and association, so long as they are exercised peacefully and responsibly. Investigations and related actions aimed at limiting such activity undermines academic freedom and democratic society generally.