Student Union president arrested over anti-government protest

Student Union of Thailand (SUT) president Jutatip Sirikhan has been arrested while on the way to university earlier today (1 September) for her participation in the 18 July mass protest.

Jutatip was arrested while on a taxi on her way to class at Thammasat University’s Tha Prachan campus. She went live on Facebook at 12.50 today when plainclothes police officers stopped the taxi she was in and delivered an arrest warrant.

One of the plainclothes police officers presented his badge to Jutatip after they stopped the taxi she was on in order to deliver her arrest warrant. 

Jutatip was taken to Samranrat Police Station. An officer accompanied her in another taxi to the station, since she did not feel safe enough to travel in the private car the officers brought to arrest her. She stayed live on Facebook and read out passages from the Thai translation of Thomas Paine’s Common Sense during the travel to the station.

She was then taken to the Bangkok Criminal Court and was granted bail and released at 17.20 using the academic position of a lecturer at Thammasat University as security. The Court did not require her to immediately pay the 100,000 baht security, but imposed the condition that she does not repeat the actions for which she was being charged – the same condition given to everyone else who has been arrested and released on the same charges.

Jutatip appeared in front of the Criminal Court after her release and gave a short press conference.

“When they were arresting me, they rode a motorcycle up to the car I was on and knocked on the window. I was shocked, thinking that they were thieves, but instead they showed me their ID cards and telling me their rank, said they were police,” Jutatip said. “I didn’t intend to run away to begin with. I know I have an arrest warrant. I have been waiting to be arrested for a very long time, but it didn’t happen until today. Each time someone gets arrested, there will be slurs against our side that we did not protest peacefully. 

“I am a student and I have been harassed by the police for months, for years. Why is there no compensation for me? Why must there be compensation for the police who are servants of the dictatorship? 

“There should actually be a summons first, but what happened was that the police brought the arrest warrant and arrested me. It’s extremely unfair to a student. They followed me with my phone signal, followed me from where I’m staying. They threatened my home, they threatened my family, they took a warrant to my house, so now we have to escalate our protest. Everything is supported by the Constitution.

“We pay our taxes. We must receive protection from the state, not harassment from the state. So today I have to express myself symbolically that we can do this. We must stand by our rights and freedoms. Throwing paint is also something that can be done.”

Jutatip then threw a bucket of white paint over herself while holding up her hand in the three-finger ‘Hunger Games’ salute. She said that the white paint represents purity and justice, and that they are demanding justice back.

“We are showing that this is freedom, this is the kind of expression we can do,” Jutatip said. “Even if now it is throwing paint over ourselves, it is a way of showing that we can throw paint at any time. We can throw paint over those with power, because those with power throw legal charges over us, throw bullets at us without exception.”

“Paint can be washed out, but we can’t wash out injustice,” Jutatip said.

Jutatip covered herself in white paint in a symbolic act of protest following her release. 

Afterwards, Jutatip thanked the lecturer who came to make bail for her and the people who came to support her, and helped the crowd clean the paint off the sidewalk in front of the footpath in front of the Court.

“We won’t stop fighting until we win in everything, including monarchy reform and a new constitution,” Jutatip said.

Jutatip is the 14th activist to be arrested for participating in the 18 July mass protest. 15 other participants at the protest have also received a summons and reported to Samranrat Police Station to hear the charges against them on 28 August. Jutatip was charged with sedition and violation of the Emergency Decree and the Communicable Diseases Act, among other charges.