12 July 2024

A Chiang Mai University student has slashed his chest with a razor blade in protest against the country’s lèse majesté law this morning (Tuesday).

The incident, with the cut made in the shape of “112″, happened when the student arrived at Phu Ping Ratchanivet police station to acknowledge charges of an alleged violation of Section 112 of the Criminal Code, known as the lèse majesté law, and an alleged breach of the National Flag Act.

The 23-year-old student at the Fine Arts Faculty, Vitthaya Klangnil, and his colleague, Yotsunthon Ruttapradit, are facing charges brought against them by political activist Srisuwan Janya in connection with an incident in March, when the duo placed an altered Thai national flag, daubed with wording deemed critical of the monarchy, at an exhibition site in the university compound.

A group of lecturers and supporters, including Mr. Chamnan Chanruang, former deputy leader of the now defunct Future Forward Party, gathered in front of the police station to offer moral support to both students.

Some of Vitthaya’s supporters intervened as police tried to prevent him from harming himself further, claiming that it was an act of freedom of expression, but he was eventually taken into the police station for administration of first-aid.

The other student, Yotsunthon, told reporters at the scene that he had not desecrated the Thai flag as alleged, claiming that it was just a work of art. Both students were later released and scheduled to report themselves on May 31.

One of the lecturers, Asst. Prof. Dr. Asst. Prof.Dr Thasanai Sethaseree, of the Faculty of Fine Arts at Chiang Mai University, said that the use of Thai national flag in a work of art does not constitute a violation of the Thai National Flag Act.