Thai Student Activist Released on Bail, Detained Again

August 23, 2016

A hunger-striking student activist in Thailand was released on bail Friday only to be detained again on another charge, the Bangkok Post reported.

Jatupat Boonpattararaksa, a student at Khon Kaen University, was released on bail in relation to charges that he violated the country’s referendum law by distributing pamphlets critical of a draft constitution in advance of an Aug. 7 vote on the document. Shortly after his release on Friday, Boonpattararaksa was detained again on charges of violating a ban on political gatherings in March 2015.

UPDATE: The Bangkok-based Khaosod reported that Boonpattararaksa was freed on bail today -- "for real this time." 

Thailand has been ruled by a military junta since a successful coup in May 2014. Human rights groups including Amnesty International and Scholars at Risk have written in recent weeks in support of Boonpattararaksa and another student activist, Wasin Prommanee, with whom he was reportedly arrested Aug. 6. Human Rights Watch issued a statement last week raising concerns about the hunger-striking Boonpattararaksa's health and calling for the military junta to release him "and other activists who peacefully protested the proposed constitution."

In response to Inside Higher Ed's inquiry about the student activists' cases, Thanida Menasavet, of Thailand's embassy in Washington, D.C., wrote, "As with any countries [sic], Thailand is trying to strike a balance between civil rights and the need to uphold public order. Over the past years, we have been faced with instability and a challenge to the rule of law. It is against this backdrop that we are now working hard to move our country forward to achieve social reconciliation and sustainable democracy. For those who break the law, we will ensure that they are treated with due respect to their rights and their medical and other needs attended."

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