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Thai student leader charged for saying the unsayable

Jutatip Sirikhan's only crime was to speak her mind in public by calling for reform of the monarchy

James Lovelock, Bangkok

James Lovelock, Bangkok

Updated: September 02, 2020 07:18 AM GMT
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Thai student leader charged for saying the unsayable

A protester tears an image of Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha during a demonstration in Bangkok on Aug. 31 against the proposed purchase of submarines by the military-aligned government. (Photo: AFP)

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An outspoken student activist who is president of the Student Union of Thailand was arrested while she was on her way to a university in Bangkok on Sept. 1. Let’s call that what it was: a shameful act of official harassment of yet another pro-democracy activist.

Jutatip Sirikhan, 21, a plucky young woman who has come to fame lately for her rousing speeches demanding greater democratic rights for all Thais, was detained by a plainclothes policeman as she was sitting in a taxi traveling to university. Jutatip made a video of the incident and posted it on Facebook.

The student leader was taken to a police station and charged with sedition and other crimes over a student demonstration she helped organize in Bangkok on July 18 at the city’s Democracy Monument.

The demonstration unsettled the government as several student leaders, including Jutatip, defied an age-old taboo by openly calling for a reform of Thailand’s monarchy.

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