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Schools are supposed to be safe spaces for students to think and act freely without fear of being harassed by state officials.
No law exists which forbids students from protesting against their school’s regulations or administration. The constitution also gives them rights to political expression and peaceful assembly.
Apparently, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha’s cronies do not care about these facts. If they do, police officers will not be inside schools to monitor student activities.
On Monday, a uniformed officer was spotted inside Ramkhamhaeng University telling university students to change the questions on their survey.
The question that disturbed the officer was, ‘should Prayut continue to run the country?’
The answers were overwhelmingly, NO.
Not only that, an administrator from the university also came to ask the university students to conduct another activity that is more “creative” than this.
In my opinion, the officer should not have been inside the campus at all. It is not part of his job to be asking university students what questions they can ask or cannot ask.
The administrator should also explain why she is siding on the side of authoritarianism.
What I saw were students showing political awareness and curiosity and adults trying to stop them because they are scared.
It was an example of an unhealthy political environment where people are scared to question the leadership of the country. This is a direct result of the pro-military government’s program of intimidation and judicial harassment.
Another example happened this week on Tuesday when two uniformed officers were spotted inside Triam Udom Suksa School.
The officers were there to monitor a protest against uniform and hairstyle regulations.
The school said in a statement that students who failed to comply with new and stricter regulations could have their conduct score cut, teachers will not score their exam, parents could be called in, suspended and even expelled from the school.
None of this has anything to do with public safety so there was absolutely no need for the two officers to be there.
The police, which surely have more pressing concerns, should be commended for finding the time to harass and monitor students.
How fragile is the Thai state that this is the best use of police time.