Student activists give 3-fingered salute to National Human Rights Commission

Thai police on Friday afternoon detained two of five student activists who gave the anti-coup three-fingered salute to the heavily criticized head of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). They were released after signing the military-draft agreement. 
 
Five student activists from the Thai Students Centre for Democracy (TSCD) and Dao Din were stopped by police after they interrupted a speech by NRC Chairperson Amara Pongsapich and gave her the three-fingered salute late on Friday morning. 
 
 
The event, held by the NHRC at its head office and titled “Understanding of human rights is needed before national reform” was organized to commemorate International Human Rights Day, which was actually on 10 December.  
 
The students presented to Amara A3 pictures of people who were charged for defying the junta’s order along with the messages ‘Where is the NHRC when the gun comes out?’ They then raised the three-fingered salute, the symbol of defiance against the junta, on stage.
 
Meanwhile, another group of two activists showed pictures of Amara with the messages, “Missing person”, “Are you still alive?”, and “Stop paying the NHRC.”
 
The activists stated that the NHRC is an organization operating with a budget from the taxpayers, and has the duty to support international principles of human rights in Thailand and monitor the rights situation in the country. However, the organization fails to do this. Therefore, it would be useless to pay for the NHRC.
 
They added that since the 2010 military crackdown on red-shirt protesters and the coup in May until now, the NHRC has never done its duty, but was partial and supported the military’s suppression of people. People cannot rely on the NHRC under the military regime and the organization actually worsens the situation.  
 
Police from Tung Song Hong Police Station took only Sirawich and Natchacha for “attitude adjustment” at the NHRC compound because the two made the anti-coup gesture. The police told the student activists that the salute constituted instigation of political uprising which is prohibited by the junta’s National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) and may lead to national security problems. 
 
The meeting with police was witnessed by two representatives of the NHRC. 
 
The students were forced to sign a statement saying that they had been told not to do such an activity again. 
 
Sirawich has been arrested repeatedly for anti-coup activities while Natchacha made international media headlines when she was arrested for giving the three-fingered salute at the Hunger Games 3 premiere in a Bangkok shopping mall.