Families of 20 Student Activists Report Military Harassment

Student activist flashes an anti-coup salute in front of martial court in Bangkok on 26 March 2015.

BANGKOK – At least 20 student activists have reported harassment from security officers who allegedly visited their families or searched their homes without court warrants in the past week.

According to the Thai Student Center for Democracy (TSCD), a university student activist group, soldiers visited the family homes of two student activists on 19 March, and police officers attempted to search the residences of two other student activists on 20 March.

Thirteen more students were allegedly targeted yesterday, the group reported in a detailed chronology of the incidents  posted on Facebook, translated below:

25 March

  • 10.30 am: Three officers from the Special Branch Police searched residence of family of a student activist in Buriram province.
  • 1.10 pm: Officers from the Special Branch Police visited the family of student activist Cholthicha Chaengrew in Pathum Thani province.
  • 1.20 pm: Soldiers and Special Branch Police officers visited the family of student activist Piyarath Chonthep in Kalasin province.
  • 1.30 pm: Three officers from the Special Branch Police visited the family of student activist Natchacha Kongudom in Nong Khai province.
  • 1.40 pm: Two officers from the Special Branch Police visited the family of student activist Pongnarin Nonkam at their residence in Chiang Rai province.
  • 1.50 pm: Soldiers and police officers visited the family of a student activists in Chayabhum province. 
  • 2.30 pm: Three plainclothed police officers searched residence of student activist Weerachai Fendee in Chonburi province. 
  • 3.30 pm: Two officers from the Special Branch Police visited the family of student activist Witchapol Yanaso.
  • 4.30 pm: Soldiers visited the family of student activist Rangsiman Rome at their residence in Pathum Thani province. 
  • 4.40 pm: Special Branch Police officers visited the family of a student activist who studies at Kasetsat University. 
  • 4.50 pm: Two Special Branch Police officers visited another student activist who studies at Kasetsat University.
  • 5.00 pm: Soldiers visited the family of a student activist at their residence in Chiang Mai province. 
  • Late night: Security officers visited the family of student activist Wachrawit Kongkalai. 

A member of the TSCD, Than Rittiphan, told Khaosod English the family homes of three more student activists were searched today by security officers who arrived in an armored vehicle.

The TSCD said in statement they believe security forces are attempting to intimidate students into ceasing their political activities and acts of dissent against the ruling junta.

"There are also a number of students who are being followed and threatened by security officers. We are closely monitoring the situation," the group said in a statement.

Since seizing power from an elected government on 22 May 2014, the military junta has cracked down on civil rights in Thailand, namely by imposing a ban on political activities, censoring the media, and trying dissidents under the military court, where military officers serve as judges and no appeal is permitted. 

Several groups of student activists have organized sporadic protests against the junta, which is known formally as the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO). The students have hung pro-democracy banners, distributed leaflets, and organized other political forums and events

In November 2014, four students flashed the anti-coup "three-finger salute" in front of junta chairman and Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha as he was giving a speech in Khon Kaen province. The activists were dragged away by security officers and briefly detained at army camps, but no charges were filed against them. 

Sirawit, whose dorm police allegedly attempted to search on 20 May, is currently facing trial in military court for violating the junta's ban on protests by organizing a pro-election rally in Bangkok on 14 February 2015. 

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