In early April 2022, police issued an arrest warrant for Thammasat University professor Yukti Mukdawijitra, in connection with a social media post from 2021.
The arrest warrant was issued in response to a complaint filed by Apiwat Kantong, an attorney for Thailand’s prime minister. The complainant accused Yukti of violating Thailand’s lese-majeste law (criminal code section 112) and the Computer Crimes Act for comments Yukti made over Twitter in May 2021. After an exiled academic commented on rumors that King Vajiralongkorn had been hospitalized, Yukti—reportedly a supporter of the monarchy-reform movement—commented in a separate post: “If a rumor isn’t true, then make it a curse.”
On April 11, Yukti, accompanied by his attorney, turned himself over to police after learning of the warrant. Authorities released Yukti on bail. Yukti denied the charges and agreed to submit written testimony within 30 days.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the criminal investigation of a scholar in connection with nonviolent social media activity—conduct that is expressly protected by 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 should refrain from criminal investigations and other coercive legal action intended to restrict or retaliate against such conduct. Criminal investigations in response to scholars’ nonviolent expressive activity undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.