Foreign students can take part in political gatherings as long as they follow the law

Thailand’s Immigration Bureau is clarifying that foreign students can, indeed, take part in political gatherings provided they follow the law. The news comes after The Asian Institute of Technology sent an email to its students saying it respected freedom of expression but was conveying a request from Thai immigration for foreign students not to join protests.

The email also allegedly told students they could risk losing their visas if they were found to be participating in such gatherings. The email also allegedly said they could be blacklisted from Thailand if they were caught, citing the Immigration Bureau.

But the Immigration Burea commissioner, Sompong Chingduang, says it was possibly a miscommunication. He says the immigration office of Pathum Thani, where the school was located, contacted all educational institutes in the province, to express concern that if foreign students took part in political protests, they could risk being infected with Covid-19. According to Reuters, government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri also said that no order had been issued by the immigration bureau, as did foreign ministry spokesman Tanee Sangrat, who said the issue could be a “miscommunication.”

“Please be assured that the Immigration Bureau has never issued an order to ban foreign students from political gatherings. We only want them to be careful about the pandemic. The bureau understands well about people’s rights under the Thai constitution.”

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But Sompong is asking students to be careful not to break the law as it could affect their status as students in Thailand. He reiterated that they could take part in political gatherings as long as they stayed within the scope of the law. According to Reuters, AIT also said in the email what Sompong reiterated.

“All of us must be respectful of the laws and policies of the host country Thailand.”

According to Reuters, the email sent by the AIT, however, did not specifically mention demonstrations about the recent Myanmar coup, but said the request covers protests in “Bangkok, United Nations, embassies.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post/Reuters

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Ann Carter

Ann Carter is an award-winning journalist from the United States with over 12 years experience in print and broadcast news. Her work has been featured in America, China and Thailand as she has worked internationally at major news stations as a writer and producer. Carter graduated from the Walter Williams Missouri School of Journalism in the USA.

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