After a series of events in which teachers punished students for protesting against the dictatorship, the public education agency this morning weighed in to support their right to free speech.
The Office of the Basic Education Commission, which oversees all public primary and secondary schools, issued a statement today asking all schools nationwide to allow students to express their political views on campuses – with conditions.
“We ask every educational institution under the Basic Education Commission to consider opening space for students to be able to voice their opinions under the framework of the law,” the letter reads. “We also ask that school administrators think about student’s rights to freedom of speech and safety, without allowing in other non-student protestors.”
The statement comes two days after Education Minister Nattapol Teepsuwan said students could express their opinions but should refrain from making disrespectful gestures toward school admins and teachers. He also told reporters that students could be arrested on campus if they were determined to have violated the law.
Following Sunday’s protest at the Democracy Monument, the largest since 2014, high school students nationwide have been raising three-finger salutes associated with the anti-government movement and displaying white ribbons to show their support for the protests.
The initial responses of schools administrations were mixed. Episodes of some teachers seizing the ribbons, scolding students for “disrespecting” their schools and even striking students have been caught on video.
That’s led to #ProtestatEducationMinistryAfterSchool trending on Twitter since Tuesday, calling for anti-government students to join the ongoing rallies.
At 4pm today, hundreds of students are expected to rally in front of the Ministry of Education in Bangkok’s Dusit district.
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