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SATURDAY, December 10, 2022
Most pro-democracy students being punished for their beliefs, NGO says

Most pro-democracy students being punished for their beliefs, NGO says

FRIDAY, December 18, 2020

Protection International (PI), a non-profit organisation dedicated to the protection of human-rights defenders, found that 87.9 per cent of students fighting for democracy have faced some form of intimidation, especially from their teachers.

Some students and members of their family have even faced threats from officials.

On Thursday, PI and members of the student-led pro-democracy movement, held an event titled “Who should be protected by the government when the youth decide to protect their rights?” at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand in Bangkok.

At the event, PI member Pranom Somwong said most students who tried to fight for their political rights had been threatened in some way or the other – facing mental abuse from teachers in school or being followed home by police officers.

She also said that at least five youngsters, below the age of 18, have been charged for violating the emergency decree and sedition, while at least one 18-year-old faces lese majeste charges.

Pranom also pointed out that Thailand has been a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child for 28 years now. “Yet, what are the Thai government and UNICEF doing to fulfil their duties in protecting children from intimidation?” she asked.

Kunthida Rungruengkiat from the Progressive Movement said students’ rights began being violated in school and by officials as soon as they decided to fight for their rights and present their political views. In some cases, strangers were seen taking their photographs in school, which should be the safest place.

Kunthida said the government should take Thailand’s Child Protection Act seriously, adding that organising political activities is not illegal. It is a right ensured by the Constitution, she added.

She also reminded schools that the Education Ministry has written to them, saying students have the right to express themselves freely.

Laponpat Wangpaisit from the Bad Student group said that more than 1,000 intimidation cases have been reported by students over the past five or six months.

He said these cases are a reflection of the government’s inefficiency in addressing problems, adding that the authorities have, so far, not responded to any of the demands made by the Bad Student group.