A school at the centre of controversy after it expelled a teenage activist, has denied her political actions were the reason for the expulsion. Thanlapop “Yok” Phanachai was recently released after 51 days’ detention for violating Thailand’s strict lèse majesté law.
The Triam Udom Suksa Pattanakarn school says that while 15 year old Yok was in detention, her mother had paused her registration at the school. Following the teenager’s release in May, she returned to the school with dyed hair and refusing to wear the school uniform or attend certain classes as she called for increased student freedoms.
The activist also refused to attend morning flag-raising activities, a tradition activists have described as indoctrination. Yok has described her actions as freedom of expression. When the school expelled her, it said the reason for doing so was not her behaviour, but her mother’s failure to re-register her following her release from detention.
“The school would like to emphasise that it has never rejected Yok’s enrollment and has provided full support and assistance within the framework of student care systems, despite her lack of cooperation in improving her behaviour as mentioned.”
Yok says she was notified of her expulsion after she escaped a meeting which had been called to discuss her refusal to comply with the school’s dress code.
“I felt suffocated and couldn’t bear it anymore, so I asked to leave. But the teacher prohibited it. They sat and blocked all the exits, so I couldn’t find a way out. There was a window behind us and a table in front of us, so I chose to crawl under the table.”