Thailand’s special branch to stop targeting Muslim students

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Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. Xinhua

BANGKOK (Bangkok Post) –Thailand’s Special Branch Bureau (SBB) has agreed to stop seeking information on Muslim students, the House committee on law, justice and human rights said on Wednesday.

Rangsiman Rome, committee spokesman, said the panel was given assurances by the SBB that it would abandon the controversial practice.

The committee is probing the SSB in response to a petition from the Muslim Students Federation of Thailand (Mustfeth), which said the measure violated human rights.

Mr Rangsiman, who is also a Future Forward Party MP, said the panel invited the SBB to explain its actions. SBB chief Pol Maj Gen Ronnachai Chindamuk told the committee the bureau was seeking information for security reasons, but did not elaborate. However, he promised to stop the work, according to Mr Rangsiman, who said the committee will check to see if the SBB keeps its word.

Last month, Mustfeth took issue with a letter that the SBB sent to colleges, seeking detailed information about their Muslim students, including their extracurricular activities.

The federation said the letter violated Section 27 of the constitution, which guarantees equal rights and freedom to all. The request, it added, showed the government’s distrust towards Muslims, which could cause further divisions in society.

The measure singled out Muslim students for surveillance, and interfered with the education institutions’ affairs, it said.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said earlier the police had informed him that such requests for information are nothing out of the ordinary.

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