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 24, 2020

Attack Types: Imprisonment | Prosecution

Institution(s):Ramkhamhaeng University

Region & Country:Southeastern Asia | Thailand

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On August 24, 2020, Thai authorities arrested Panupong Jadnok, a Ramkhamhaeng University student and pro-democracy activist, for the second time in three weeks, in connection with peaceful protest activities.

Panupong had been arrested on August 7, 2020, in connection with participation in a student protest the prior month (see report). He was reportedly charged with sedition, assembly with intent to cause violence, violating a ban on public gatherings, and other offenses, but was released the following day on the condition that he refrain from engaging in the alleged offenses for which he had been arrested. 

He attended a second student-led protest on August 10. He was arrested on August 24, while staging another demonstration against Prime Minister Chan-ocha, who was then visiting the nearby area in the eastern province of Rayong. A police spokesman confirmed the arrest, but did not share the details of the charges. However Panupong’s lawyer publicly announced that he was facing six charges arising out of his participation in the August 10 rally.

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 — 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.