Student’s travel request still denied

After having her request denied twice and being ordered twice by the South Bangkok Criminal Court to provide additional documents, scholarship student Ravisara Eksgool, who was charged with royal defamation for reading out a statement during the 26 October 2020 protest at the German Embassy, has not yet been granted permission to travel to study overseas after the court on 21 March 2022 ordered her to have her documents verified by the German Embassy.

Ravisara Eksgool

Ravisara received a German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) scholarship to pursue a master’s degree in management of non-profit organizations at the Osnabrück University of Applied Science, Germany.

Ravisara is one of 13 people indicted on royal defamation and sedition charges under Sections 112 and 116 of the Thai Criminal Code for participating in a protest in front of the German Embassy in Bangkok on 26 October 2020 to demand monarchy reform. She was charged for reading out the statement in German. One of her bail conditions is that she is not allowed to the leave the country without court permission.

In early February 2022, Ravisara filed a request with the South Bangkok Criminal Court to be allowed to leave the country. Her request was denied on the grounds that travelling abroad violated her bail conditions and that a 2-year scholarship would result in her fleeing the country.

She filed another request on 3 March 2022, proposing to impose several conditions upon herself to be allowed to leave the country, including reporting to a Thai Embassy or Consulate in Germany every 30 days and requesting permission to be overseas only until the end of the first semester in February 2023. She also presented the Letter of Award from DAAD, certifying that she has been granted a DAAD scholarship, along with a letter from Georg Schmidt, the German Ambassador to Thailand, which states that only excellent and promising university students qualify for the scholarship and that Ravisara’s studies in Germany would benefit not only her but also Thailand.

The Court denied her request on the grounds that her father and a Chulalongkorn University lecturer, who she proposed to appoint as her supervisors, are both in Thailand, and would not be able to supervise her while she is overseas, and that it fears she will flee.

The court also said that it has not been confirmed that Ravisara has been granted the scholarship, despite the documents she presented confirming that she is a recipient of the DAAD scholarship.

Ravisara was due to leave Thailand in early April, since she has to take a 6-month language course before starting her degree.

On 10 March 2022, she filed another request, presenting the DAAD Letter of Award, a letter from DAAD’s representative in Thailand detailing the terms of the scholarship, and the letter from the German Ambassador to Thailand. She also told the court that she would be requesting leave from the university to return to Thailand for next year’s hearings, and to show that she intends to return to Thailand, she applied for a visa which is only valid for 6 months.

The court required her to submit a letter from the university certifying that she has received the scholarship, and a letter of consent from the individual she intends to have the court appointed as her supervisor.

On 15 March 2022, Ravisara submitted to the court certifying letters from the University of Applied Science Osnabrück and the language institute she will be taking a language course before starting her degree. She also presented her passport and visa, granted by the German Embassy in Thailand and valid from 1 April – 20 September 2022, to show her intention to return to Thailand. She also asked the court to appoint an individual residing in Germany as her supervisor.

Judge Santi Chukitsappaisan, Research Justice of the Supreme Court, temporarily acting as the Deputy Chief Justice of the South Bangkok Criminal Court, ordered Ravisara to present a letter from the university confirming that it will allow her a leave of absence to attend her hearings, which she submitted yesterday (21 March 2022)

 

The letter from the University of Applied Science Osnabrück stating that the university and the problem is willing to grant Ravisara leave to attend her hearings

The letter states that the university is aware that Ravisara was charged with royal defamation and that she will have to be in Thailand in 2023 to attend her trial. It says that the university and the programme have “no problem” with her absence, and that if she misses “a small amount of time” during her studies, it will not be an obstacle to her getting her degree.

The letter also stresses that the university is “very interested” in Ravisara coming to the university because of her academic merits and her having been awarded the DAAD scholarship and that they would be grateful if it is possible “for a promising potential scholar and NPO Manager” to start her master’s degree.

Ravisara also proposed that the Court appointed a Thai PhD student in Germany as her supervisor, and submitted a letter of consent from the person.

Nevertheless, the Court ordered her to have the letter from the university verified by the German Embassy in Thailand. It also said that the supervisor should be someone who the court sees as being trustworthy and in a position to supervise her, and ordered her to propose supervisors who live in Germany and in Thailand, such as a professor or close relative, before the court consider her request.

The order was signed by judge Netdao Manotamkij, Deputy Chief Justice of the South Bangkok Criminal Court.

Other people facing charges for participating in the 2020 – 2021 pro-democracy protests have also been denied passports. Sainam (family name withheld), a teenage protester charged with royal defamation for attending a ‘fashion show’ protest, said earlier in 2022 that his passport application was rejected. The Consular Affairs Department was reportedly asked by Yan Nawa Police Station, which brought 112 charges against him, not to issue a passport.

BBC Thai also reported that Dechathorn Bamrungmuang, a member of the band Rap Against Dictatorship known under the stage name HOCKHACKER, found on 25 November 2021 that he could not get a new passport because his name had been placed on a ‘watchlist’ after he voiced criticism of the government.

According to the Thai Enquirer, Samranrat Police Station submitted a request to the Department of Consular Affairs to revoke the passports of 13 people who had been charged with sedition over their involvement in pro-democracy rallies.  Six were listed by name: Jutatip Sirikhan, Korakot Saengyenpan, Suwanna Tanlek, Baramee Chaiyarat and Panumas Singprom.

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