Harassment and discrimination worry pro-democracy protesters

The House Committee on Labour and individual MPs have received petitions from university students about potential discrimination regarding internship opportunities and police and military surveillance due to their participation in the pro-democracy movement.

Protesters flashed the three-finger 'Hunger Games' salute during the protest at Ratchaprasong Intersection on 15 Oct. (File Photo)

On 5 November, Soekarno Matha and Kamolsak Leewamoh, MPs from the Prachachat Party which is popular in the Deep South of Thailand, received a letter from 2 students which states that they and their families were pressured by the police.

Abdulloh Side, a Rangsit University student and deputy head of the Muslim Students Federation of Thailand, said the police twice went to his home at Yala province looking for him without any warrant, claiming that he would be taken to the police station for questioning. This caused his family a great deal of worry.

Suhaimi Luebaesa, a political science student from Prince of Songkla University, Pattani campus, said a group of soldiers went to his home after he gave a speech at the protest at Sanam Luang and Thammasat University on 19-20 September.

The soldiers threatened people at his home and questioned them about his personal information. They justified their action by referring to the emergency decree that has been in force in the Deep South region for 16 years to suppress the insurgents. Suhaimi also received a call from the military while he was at the university. He said it is probably an attempt by the local authority to deter him from joining the protests again.

Soekarno said he will then send a notification letter to the authorities, especially Patae Police Station, Yala Province, which is in a red-zone area. He will also raise the issue in the House of Representatives Committee on Legal Affairs, Justice and Human Rights.

Kamolsak said what is concerning is that the state of emergency in the Deep South is now apparently neing used to control public gatherings despite the original declared intention of controlling security in the region.

On 4 November, the House of Representatives Committee on Labour also received a letter from Rachata Iamtrabut, Peerakit Srikul and Manirat Chanthepha about a leaked Line chat of the Dean of the Faculty of Social Administration, Thammasat University, on potential discrimination against the internships of students who participate in the protests.

In a leaked photo, a Line user alleged to be the Dean states that faculty alumni are worried about students’ participation in the pro-democracy movement. They are afraid that the students have an attitude not befitting a career in social administration. Some organizations may reject requests for internships to avoid confrontation from online communication.

Suthep U-on, a Move Forward Party MP, and Chair of the House Committee, said the Committee will summon those involved in the incident to testify to the committee.

Since July, many reports show that pro-democracy protesters have been charged, monitored or pressured by the police officers. Some people who criticized the monarchy were forced by the police to sign MOUs not to do it again.

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