Thailand’s Minister of Education, Nataphol Teepsuwan, this week said that Thai student protesters can be arrested inside schools around the country if they were breaking the law in their protests.
For the past two months, student-led protests have engulfed the nation with rallies carried out throughout the country demanding constitutional change and fresh elections. Police and state security forces have used scare tactics and arrest warrants to try and quell the tide of protest, charging some student-leaders with sedition and illegal assembly.
While most of the protests have occurred on campus at universities and attended largely by university students, on Monday, high school students joined their seniors in solidarity by carrying out disobedience campaigns during the morning’s flag-raising ceremony. (Read more here)
In response, the education minister said that all students found breaking the law could be arrested on campus by police. Nataphol also warned students against ‘disrespectful’ gestures.
The education minister made the statements while trying to promote his education reform program which he said would ‘unlock, change and widen’ the national curriculum.
According to Nataphol, Thailand’s education system should create individuals adaptive to change and students must evolve from a ‘fixed mindset’ to a more modern mindset.
Nataphol, a member of the military-backed ruling party, has himself been arrested as one of the leaders the People’s Democratic Reform Committee which protested against the democratically-elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra and called for an unelected guiding body to rule the country. The PDRC protests catalysed a military coup and five years of military rule.
It is unclear how Thai students are going to be encouraged to evolve from a fixed mindset when speaking out against conservative society could result in on-campus arrests.