17-Yr-Old Girl Summoned Over Ratchaburi Anti-Gov’t Protest

A protester holds a “Royalist Marketplace” sign at the Ratchaburi protest on Aug. 1, 2020. Photo: Democracy Ratchaburi

RATCHABURI — Activists said Thursday a 17-year-old high school student was to be questioned by the police for her role in a recent pro-democracy protest in Ratchaburi province. 

The Ratchaburi Democracy group announced on Wednesday night that five student protesters, one of them the female high schooler, received a police summons for holding the protest on Aug. 1. A policeman refused to say whether they would also be charged. 

“I’m so confused that they’re taking what they can get, even arresting kids,” protest co-leader Teerachai “Champ” Rawiwat, 22, said by phone Thursday. “I didn’t think they would target such young people, only me.”

“This is the first instance of pursuing a case against a high schooler,” Thammasat University political scientist Prajak Kongkirati tweeted, “Likely the first government in [Thai] history to exercise their power in this way.”  

When asked by phone Thursday morning if the underage protester would face any charges charged, Police Lt. Col. Suprapan Potipirom refused to comment. 

Teerachai said that the high school girl did not say anything “shocking” onstage, and she merely gave a speech about the Thai education system. 

The summons said that the protesters did not ask for permission to hold the Aug. 1 protest, therefore breaching the Emergency Decree, public gathering laws, as well as using sound amplifiers without permits. 

According to the summons, the protest was attended by 60 people and lasted from 4pm to 5:20pm on Woradech Road in Ratchaburi city. 

The larger Free Youth activist page, who publicized the summons document, also said it was the first police summons of an underaged protester since the current wave of protests began in mid-July. 

The Ratchaburi activist group said that they had already asked for and received permission from police officers onsite to hold the protest. Indeed, even the official Ratchaburi Police Facebook posted on Aug. 1 photos of their preparation of 127 officers to take care of the protest’s security. 

The five students must report themselves to Ratchaburi police before Sept. 17.

The Ratchaburi policeman listed as the accuser on the summons, Maj. Poramet Ngamloet, could not be contacted after repeated calls. 

Phalang Pracharath MP Parina Kraikupt of Ratchaburi, notorious in the press for her pro-establishment verbiage, had condemned the protests on Aug. 1.

“This Champ kid leading the protest should be taken care of by his teachers and parents,” Parina wrote on social media.

“Ratchaburi does not want chaos, because Ratchaburi is a city that belongs to the King, not Thanathorn,” she added, referring to leader of now-defunct Future Party Party Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit.