11 July 2024

At least two activists were detained and fined Friday morning after holding an activity opposing the degree conferral ceremony at Chiang Mai University (CMU).

Activists Phimchanok Jaihong and Yossuntorn Rattapradit were taken to a police station in Chiang Mai. They were charged with failure to obey police officers. Phimchanok was also charged with causing a noise nuisance. Both have paid fines of 500 baht per count and been released, according to the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR).

As the university held a ceremony for its graduates on Friday, the two activists held banners with messages critical of the participation by members of the royal family.

The ceremony has long been one of the most anticipated life events for many. Not only does it mark an achievement, but it is also a rare chance to meet and interact in person with a member of the royal family.

With the growing anti-establishment sentiment, however, a number of students boycotted ceremonies in universities at which the degrees are conferred by a member of the royal family.

Three days before CMU’s graduation day, its student union’s policy team also announced it would not send any representatives to welcome Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, who would represent the King at the degree conferral ceremony.

On Thursday, the day before the ceremony, the student union policy team conducted a survey around the campus, asking whether the students wanted to receive their degree from their parents, friends, boyfriend or girlfriend, professors, or a royal. It showed the last option was the least popular.