A string of missing person posters put up by students at Ubon Ratchathani University was removed by university security on Wednesday.
The student group called คบแพลิง or “Kob Plerng” gathered on Tuesday to hang up posters of people assumed to be abducted by the Thai state as it has been over a month since Wanchalearm Satisakit was abducted in Cambodia and his fate remains unknown.
The string of posters was placed in front of the Faculty of Political Science. The action was meant to demonstrate the importance of protecting people’s rights from forced disappearances.
In the early mornings of Wednesday at 2:44 a.m., university security removed the posters, according to the CCTV footage.
Hudsawat Rattanakachen, one of the students involved in organizing the activity, told Thai Enquirer that this was to demonstrate the lack of effort from the government in finding information on Wanchalearm’s whereabouts.
When Hudsawat learnt that the posters were taken down, he said, “All I wanted to do was to demand the whereabouts of one person and I question the people that took down the sign… is it that dangerous? I don’t see how what I am demanding is against the law and that this is another human being… we should help ask the government to find the truth about [his case].”
“This proves that life does not matter to those that ordered this to happen on campus,” said Dr Titipol Phakdeewanich, Dean of the Faculty of Political Science at Ubon Ratchatani University.
He gave permission to the students to set up the posters in front of the faculty building.
“What the students are fighting for is to protect the rights of people who have been missing,” he added.
“It raises a big question of whether we can feel safe on campus or not because of what happened. Would the student feel safe when they are expressing their opinion because of [what happened]? What if [students] come to study at the faculty at night, how can they feel safe? This is something that the university needs to explain to the students to protect their rights and how the life of the students can be protected on campus,” he said.
Dr Titipol told the Thai Enquirer that both the university and the Special Police Branch denied any responsibility in ordering the posters to be taken down.
However, the security guard said that he was ordered by the Special Police Branch to take down the posters.
Among the posters that were taken down was Wanchalearm Satsakit, who was abducted on June 4 in Cambodia and has been missing for over a month.
Photos courtesy of Dr Titipol Phakdeewanich