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: October 21, 2020

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):Ramkamhang University

Region & Country:Southeastern Asia | Thailand

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On October 21, 2020, clashes broke out between pro-democracy student protesters and a group of royalists defending the Thai monarchy on Ramkhamhaeng University’s campus.

Starting on July 18, 2020, students and other young people across Thailand organized protests demanding democratic reforms including the resignation of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and his cabinet, the drafting of a new constitution based on the will of the people, and ending the repression of dissidents.

At Ramkhamhaeng University, a student group known as the Ramkhamhaeng Network for Democracy (RND) gathered on campus to hold an anti-government rally. At the same time, royalists, identified by their yellow shirts, gathered on campus to rally in support of the monarchy.

According to witnesses, members of both groups began throwing water bottles and other objects at each other. One counterprotester reportedly threw a large speaker at Thitima Butdee, a student leader for RND, injuring her left foot.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about violent clashes during an on-campus student protest. State and university authorities should take reasonable steps to respond to and prevent such attacks, including by investigating and holding perpetrators accountable. Students and other members of society should also be reminded to refrain from using physical violence in response to expression with which they disagree. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, campus violence in connection with protest activities undermines academic freedom, institutional autonomy, and democratic society generally.