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: August 07, 2020

Attack Types: Imprisonment | Prosecution

Institution(s):Ramkhamhaeng University

Region & Country:Southeastern Asia | Thailand

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On August 7, 2020, Thai authorities arrested Panupong Jadnok, a Ramkhamhaeng University student and pro-democracy activist, in connection with peaceful protest activities.

Thai authorities arrested Panupong on charges arising out of his participation in a July 18 “Free Youth” Rally in Bangkok, which was attended by more than a thousand peaceful protestors, demanding  dissolution of the House, revision of the constitution, and cessation of harassment of government critics. Similar student-led protests demanding reform had been taking place all over Thailand throughout the summer of 2020. Panupong, who spoke at the rally, was charged with sedition, assembly with intent to cause violence, violating a ban on public gatherings, and other offenses. 

On August 8, authorities released Panupong on bail on the condition that he refrain from engaging in the alleged offenses for which he was arrested. 

He was rearrested two weeks later based on his participation in a second rally at Thammasat University (see report). 

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the arrest of a student in apparent retaliation for the nonviolent exercise of the right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, and the conditioning of the student’s release from custody on the student’s refraining from engaging in such conduct — conduct that is expressly protected under international human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Thailand is a party. State authorities have an obligation to refrain from restricting expressive activity, so long as it is nonviolent and responsible. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, detentions intended to restrict nonviolent expressive activity undermines academic freedom, and democratic society generally.