BANGKOK — Police officers were seen observing a symbolic protest held by some students at a school in Bangkok earlier on Tuesday.
The policemen arrived in the morning at Samsenwittayalai School and took photos of the pupils wearing white ribbons in solidarity with the anti-government movement across the country. The students will also hold up blank papers at 3pm to call for freedom of expression amid widespread attempts to silence the protests.
Another school in Nonthaburi province places a ban on political gathering inside its campus – joining a growing number of educational establishments who impose similar policies.
“The school does not have policies to support any activities aimed to create division against the system of Democracy with the King as the Head of State,” a statement released by the Bodindecha Sing Singhaseni Nonthaburi School says.
The letter, signed by school director Nawee Suphuang, goes on to say that “a public school is not a place to hold political protests.”
Students in at least 10 schools on Monday were seen wearing white ribbons and flashing the three-finger salute as part of the resistance against the government.
Some teachers and administrators employed heavy-handed responses to the stunts, such as calling the police to confiscate the white ribbons, tying white ribbons around students’ necks, and even slapping a student in the head.
“You paid your tuition to learn at school, not to do this kind of thing!” a Suratpittaya School teacher says in a heated argument with a student in a video posted Monday. “What right do you have to do this here? I do not allow you to do this here!”
No government officials condemned those acts of violence so far. When asked about the high school protests, Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan suggested the government should create an understanding for the children.
Education minister Nataphol Teepsuwan also said the students are not immune to legal actions.
“If students do something illegal, I support administration in pursuing legal matters,” Nataphol Teepsuwan said Monday, when a reporter asked if police should be allowed to enter school grounds. “If it’s legal, then it’s their right to express the opinion.”
He continued, “If teachers can explain to students, that would be good. Paying respect to the flag is a commendable, beautiful thing that we want to keep. I don’t want demonstrations that cause division. Demonstrating is their right, but delicate matters like these can cause division.”