Conflicts & War

Thai student leader arrested in relation to pro-democracy protests

Bangkok, Sep 1 (efe-epa).- The head of Thailand’s student union, Jutatip Sirikhan, was detained in Bangkok on Tuesday for her alleged participation in ongoing pro-democracy protests that emerged in the southeast Asian nation in July.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators, mainly young students, have repeatedly taken to the streets of Bangkok over the summer calling for democratic reform and for limits to be placed on the powers of the monarchy and the military.

Jutatip, a member of the student organization Free People, has been accused of breaching the country’s emergency Covid-19 laws and sedition, a crime that can be punishable with up to seven years in prison in Thailand.

She was arrested on her way to Thammasat University in the capital Bangkok before being transferred to a police station in Samranrat, in the city center, according to a post on her Facebook page.

Another 13 alleged protest organizers have been detained since 7 August and face the same charges. All of the detainees were later released on bail.

The student protests have called for a curtailing of powers in the Thai military, which since the end of the country’s absolute monarchy in 1932 have launched a total of 13 coup d’états.

To this end, one of their main focuses has been current prime minister Prayut Chan-ocha, a former general who led the 2014 military coup and who was elected head of the government in a 2019 election that has been described by detractors, opposition parties and international observers as rigged and non-transparent.

Centered around the country’s universities, the rallies have also addressed one of the country’s biggest taboos by opening a debate around Thailand’s powerful royal family.

The Asian nation has some of the toughest lèse majesté laws in the world and criticizing or insulting the country’s royal family can lead to a 15-year prison sentence EFE-EPA


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