The Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) has reported that a 16-year-old student in Bangkok was summoned by a teacher after making a speech at the student protest on 5 September. She was asked to give the names of schoolmates who joined the protest and not to make any speeches again out of concern for the school’s reputation.
Students raising 3 fingers at the protest in front of the Ministry of Education on 5 September.
Tan (alias) said she was summoned to a meeting room on 8 September by her classroom teacher. There, she met another teacher who she had never studied with. There was no other state agent present.
According to Tan, the teacher asked her the reason for making a speech on the stage in student uniform. She gave the teacher details about the protest and their demands which related to education. She had also concealed the school name on her uniform while taking part in the protest.
The teacher said that her appearance on the stage had affected the school’s reputation. The teacher also said that a speech calling for the legalization of prostitution is improper. Tan said the talk went smoothly without any verbal assault but she felt that the teacher did not try to understand her reasons.
The teacher also asked her repeatedly during the talk not to take the stage again, claiming that her mother would be disappointed and that she might face danger. Tan responded that her mother allowed her to join the protest. Regardless of her answer, the teacher called her mother to talk about her participation.
Tan said her mother is quite open-minded and accepts her decision. However, her mother is concerned about her life at school and whether she would be monitored or expelled. The teacher still did not say anything about punishment.
Tan, along with some of her friends at school who are interested in politics took part in organizing the “#I Know I’m Bad” protest in front of the Ministry of Education (MOE) on 5 September along with 49 other student groups. It has been very rare to see Thai school students taking part in political activities.
The students stated their 3 demands: stop the harassment of students, cancel outdated rules, and comprehensive education reform. They also gave an ultimatum that Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan must resign if he fails to meet the demands.
A symbolic performance at the 5 September protest showing the students suffering in Thai education system.
Student harassment by teachers is one of the lingering problems in the Thai education system. Despite MOE regulations forbidding punishment that involves the use of force or violence, verbal and physical assaults are still seen from time to time in the news.
Students have been expressing their political opinions and anti-dictatorship calls in line with waves of countrywide pro-democracy protests since the first landmark protest in Bangkok on 18 July. After a large protest on 16 August, students in many schools showed their symbolic support by raising 3 fingers and wearing white ribbons. Many faced suppression and negative reactions from teachers as a result.
In August, TLHR reported at least 103 cases of harassment of students expressing their support for democracy.