A student protester was slapped this afternoon at a luxury riverfront shopping mall by security guards for holding a sign criticizing the government.
A Thammasat University student later identified as Benja Apan was surrounded by at least six security guards outside the Iconsiam shopping mall at about 2:30pm after she held up a sign reading “You monopolized the vaccine so the monarchy could take the credit.”
A male guard in a grey jacket is shown in a video yanking the sign out from under her arm while she argues with another guard. He then approaches and pushes the camera away moments before a sharp slapping sound is heard and 21-year-old Benja screams “he slapped me!”
Benja shouts for help and asks the guards “what kind of right do they have to slap her” as seven or so men try to restrain her.
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A representative from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, which provided her a lawyer, identified her as Benja Apan, which is the same name as the Facebook user which livestreamed the video.
Thailand’s cabinet earmarked THB6 billion (USD$200 million) late last year to produce the AstraZeneca vaccine domestically. Its sole manufacturer will be a newly created firm called Siam Biosciences that is owned by the palace.
At about 3pm, Benja and the unidentified associate were seen at the Pak Khlong San Police Station where they said they were taken by the mall guards.
A Pak Khlong San police officer who declined to give his name as he was not authorized to speak to the media said many protesters had arrived at the station to support Benja and were talking to the police about doing something about the man who allegedly struck her.
Just after 4pm, the mall apologized for the incident and said it would investigate what happened. It added that people should not express themselves politically on its premises.