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 08, 2021

Attack Types: Imprisonment

Institution(s):Thammasat University

Region & Country:Southeastern Asia | Thailand

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On August 8, 2021, Thammasat University student activists Parit Chiwarak, Nutchanon Pairoj, and Sirichai Natueng were arrested in connection with their participation in a peaceful protest.

On August 2, the student activists peacefully protested in front of the Border Patrol Police Region 1 Headquarters in Pathumthani Province. The students were there to demand the release of 32 fellow activists who were involved with a protest at the Narcotics Suppression Bureau earlier the same day.

On August 7, Chiwarak reported that he had heard police were preparing to press charges against him for his participation in the August 2 protest, and that police were following him. On August 8, all three students turned themselves into police headquarters, showing they had no intention of fleeing or tampering with evidence, and they were arrested. The students were charged with violating the COVID-19 Emergency Decree, the Communicable Diseases Act, and the Sound Amplifier Act.

The student activists had all been arrested recently, in connection with separate acts of protest. (See reports here and here.)

On September 16, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights reported that, after denying requests for bail several times, Thailand’s Court of Appeal granted bail to Chiwarak and Pairoj. It is unclear whether Natueng received bail.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the arrest of students in apparent retaliation for the peaceful exercise of the rights 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 peaceful expressive activity undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.