Cross Cultural Foundation, CrCF
For immediate release on 22 June 2015
Revoking arrest warrants against students and halting the trial of civilians in military court.
The exercise of the right to peaceful and non-violence expression is not a crime.
Student activity that expresses their opinions peacefully and nonviolently is not a crime. The state should not view students as criminals. On 22 May 2015, two groups of students have expressed themselves symbolically in front of the Bangkok Arts & Culture Centre in Bangkok and at the Democracy Monument in Khon Kaen. The state has attempted to suppress the students by use of force from both military and police personnel, who subsequently arrested the students in both Bangkok and Khon Kaen. The authorities have been monitoring the student groups, particularly the Dao Din group from Khon Kaen University, Khon Kaen. They have gone so far as to state publicly that they would summon the parents of the students who are being persecuted by the officials. The authorities have justified their acts by claiming them to be a necessity for national security and by relying on a broad interpretation of the law; the peaceful gatherings of the students were deemed a breach of public order. In retrospect, the security officials should be more tolerant of such activities since they comply with the policy of reform and reconciliation that is touted by the government. They should not suppress such action and should adhere to a non-violent approach in order to promptly restore democracy in Thailand.
Of late, the authorities announced their intention to invoke special powers to have the Military Court issue arrest warrants against the seven students from Dao Din group and nine other students from Bangkok. The activities in both Bangkok and Khon Kaen on the first anniversary of the military coup were simply an expression of opinions peacefully and nonviolently. It is a fundamental right the state is obliged to respect as per the international human rights obligations which Thailand has ratified and made promises to fulfill.
Moreover, at 1.30pm on 19 June, three more students from the Dao Din group were arrested by military and police officials. Among those who were brought to the Sri Patcharindra Military Camp, Khon Kaen, were Ms. Kwanruthai Pathumthawornsakul, Ms. Jiratchaya Hannarong, and Mr. Krit Saengsurin. The three of them were found displaying drawings of their seven fellow students in front of the monument. They were nabbed by the officials and all their drawings were taken away and brought to Khon Kaen Police Station before being held in custody at the Sri Patcharindra Military Camp. No summonses were issued against the three students. Ultimately, they have committed no violation of the law. They were later released around 4.30pm. Therefore, the act carried out by the officials against the three students was done so arbitrarily and over-reactionary. It was indeed an unnecessary restriction of the right to the freedom of expression. The Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF) has the following demands to make;
1) Stop intimidating and monitoring both the students form Dao Din group and their parents, as well as other students who carry out their activities peacefully and nonviolently;
2) Stop restricting the right to peaceful and nonviolent expression and assembly. Security units should perform their duties carefully and patiently and respect the fundamental principle of international human rights, even though they could have invoked special powers vested in this regime.
3) Revoke the warrants and charges against the seven students from Dao Din group and nine other students from Bangkok;
4) Stop trying civilians in military court.
For more information, please contact Pornpen Khongkachonkiet, Tel. 02-6934939