Police Deny Rumors of Imminent Arrests of Student Activists

Anti-government protesters rally at the University of Chamber of Commerce on Aug. 11, 2020.
Anti-government protesters rally at the University of Chamber of Commerce on Aug. 11, 2020.

BANGKOK — Student activists on Thursday said they were stalked by what they believed to be plainclothes police officers at their residence overnight, though the police force denied any involvement.

Pro-democracy campaigner Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul said on her Facebook that she saw several men loitering around her dormitory near Thammasat University’s Rangsit Campus, while another activist, Parit Chiwarak, reported that several men were seen in front of his residence. He believes they were standing by to arrest him.

“I’ve been told that there are plainclothes police officers waiting in front of my dormitory,” Panusaya said. “They’re preparing to arrest me and [Parit] at 5am because he is angry.”

She told her supporters to remain resilient and keep pushing the agenda she introduced onstage at the Monday’s anti-government rally held inside the university. 

Thammasat University Student Union also issued a warning to students staying near her residence to stay inside, adding that their “student security guards” were dispatched to the scene.

The arrests did not take place as of publication time. The student union said the men they believed to be security officers left the area at around 2am, after the incident caught widespread attention on social media.

Regional police commander Ampon Buarubporn said he has no knowledge about the alleged operation. He said his force was not mobilized to the scene last night, except for several patrol officers, which he said was a normal routine.

“I checked with the local units and they said there was no order to arrest them,” Lt. Gen. Ampon said. “There were only patrol officers last night, which was part of the normal routine to keep the community safe.”

Ampon said no one has been charged so far for the Monday’s protest, though he added that investigators are gathering evidence for a possible prosecution.

Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan also denied knowledge of the rumored arrest, and said the students were caught in their own imagination.

“No, there’s not. It’s all in their heads,” Gen. Prawit said.