Khon Kaen activist detained for peaceful protest against junta

A student activist has been arrested in Khon Kaen for a peaceful, symbolic protest against the junta.
 
On 21 December 2017, a military prosecutor in Khon Kaen detained Phanuphong Sithananuwat, 22, a student activist from the pro-democracy Dao Din group. Authorities arrested Phanuphong while he was attending a trial for another lawsuit, in which he stands accused of criticising the junta’s charter in July 2016.
 
According to a local source, the court has granted him bail. Phanuphong’s friends collected money and offered the court 10,000 baht as surety.
 
Phanuphong is one of seven student activists wanted for organising a peaceful demonstration against the military government in Khon Kaen in May 2015. Jatupat ‘Pai’ Boonpattaraksa is also one of the seven. The other five suspects have not reported to the police. 
 
Phanuphong told Prachatai that the group has decided to defy their arrest warrants as an act of resistance against the military court. They believe the military does not have the legitimacy to try civilians for peaceful assembly. 
 
 
 
Phanuphong Sithananuwat
 
Meanwhile, Jatupat, a pro-democracy activist who is currently in jail for lèse majesté, celebrated his graduation with a law degree today in front of the military court. His parents pulled a graduation gown over his orange inmate uniform. 
 
Tomorrow (22 December) marks the first anniversary of Jatupat’s detention. Although Jatupat had to take some of his final exams behind bars, he managed to graduate from the Faculty of Law, Khon Kaen University. The graduation ceremony was held at the university last week. 
 
Jatupat was convicted of lèse majesté for sharing on his Facebook account a controversial biography of King Vajiralongkorn published by BBC Thai. He was sentenced to two years and six months in prison. 
 
Despite the fact that more than 2,000 people shared the same article on Facebook and millions read it, he was the only person arrested for lèse majesté. Jatupat has been awarded the prestigious Gwangju Prize for Human Rights in recognition of his fight against military dictatorship.
 
 
Jatupat celebrates his graduation with his parents in front of the court building
 

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