Student activists evicted due to police harassment

Two student activists in Chiang Mai have been evicted from their apartment, after police surveillance on their activity caused their landlord concerns.

Phimchanok Jaihong (left) when she was arrested on 14 January 2022

“P,” a 19-year-old Chiang Mai University student activist, said that plainclothes police officers have been coming by their apartment every day for the past 2 -3 days since Phimchanok Jaihong, a member of the activist group Thalufah, came to stay with them in Chiang Mai.

P said that 2 officers came up to them on Wednesday (16 February 2022) while they were retrieving their belongings from their motorcycle and asked them whether they lived with Phimchanok. P said they denied it because they were concerned about Phimchanok’s safety, but the officers claimed that they heard that Phimchanok has problems with other activists, so they were making sure she is safe. P’s landlord also told them that police officers came to the apartment on Tuesday (15 February 2022), and that the police also called the landlord last month and asked to search the apartment, but the landlord denied their request as they were traveling at the time.

P said that Phimchanok was also staying with them at the time the landlord was contacted by the police, and after she left, the landlord, who has just returned to Chiang Mai, contacted the police about the search, but was told that they no longer needed to search the apartment.

After the officers left on Wednesday (16 February 2022), P’s landlord told them that the police coming around the apartment regularly make him afraid, and that P must leave the apartment by the end of the month. The landlord also told P that Phimchanok must leave immediately, claiming that P violated the apartment’s rule by bringing in a guest without first informing the landlord.

P is currently searching for a new apartment.

The Chiang Mai activist group Wilar Party also posted about the incident saying that the police also told P’s landlord that the two activists are facing legal charges and could be dangerous, and that they were monitoring the apartment because they heard that Phimchanok has problems with other activists, which is not true and not acceptable reasons for surveillance.

“The government is afraid of just one woman. They are questioning and pressuring her every day. She has no privacy, and we have been affected by the police’s harassment,” said the post.

“We are activists who work on several issues and have no fear of dictatorial power. This abuse of power and feeding people with false information, leading to this much damage will be a force to drive us forward. Don’t think that the people will be afraid of you. The more you do it, the more we will rise. We are just activists, not prisoners. Don’t imprison us by harassing us like we’ve done something wrong.”

Phimchanok was previously arrested on 14 January 2022, along with another Chiang Mai University activist, when they held up banners near the Chiang Mai University auditorium calling for graduates to boycott the graduation ceremony, presided over by Princess Sirindhorn, and for the repeal of Section 112. They were charged with creating a noise without a reasonable cause and refusing to comply with an official’s order. They received a 1500 baht fine and were released.

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