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Ravisara Eksgool, who was charged with royal defamation for reading out a statement during the 26 October 2020 protest at the German Embassy, has had her request to leave the country to study overseas denied twice by the South Bangkok Criminal Court over fears that she will flee the country.

Ravisara Eksgool

Ravisara, a graduate of the Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University, was recently awarded the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) scholarship to pursue a master’s degree in management of non-profit organizations at the Osnabrück University of Applied Science, Germany, a programme she said she chose because she feels that non-profit organizations in Thailand do not have the power to negotiate with state authorities, and that she might be able to help if she is able to get her degree and return to Thailand to work.

Ravisara is one of 13 people indicted on lèse majesté and sedition charges under Sections 112 and 116 of the Thai Criminal Code for participating in a protest in front of the German Embassy in Bangkok on 26 October 2020 to demand monarchy reform. She was charged for reading out the statement in German. One of her bail conditions is that she is not allowed to the leave the country without court permission.

In early February 2022, Ravisara went to renew her passport, but her request was denied, reportedly because she is facing national security charges. She then filed a request with the South Bangkok Criminal Court to be allowed to leave the country. Her request was denied on the ground that travelling abroad violated her bail conditions and that a 2-year scholarship would result in her fleeing the country.

Ravisara filed another request with the South Bangkok Criminal Court on Wednesday (3 March 2022) to be allowed to leave the country. She proposed to the court that she will report to a Thai embassy or consulate in Germany every 30 days, and that her father will file documents confirming that she has reported to an embassy or a consulate to the court in Bangkok, and update the court on her whereabouts every 30 days. She also proposed that the court could appoint the Chulalongkorn University lecturer who posted bail for her as her supervisor to guarantee that she will return to Thailand.

She also presented the Letter of Award from DAAD, certifying that she has been granted a DAAD scholarship, along with a letter from Georg Schmidt, the German Ambassador to Thailand, which states that only excellent and promising university students qualify for the scholarship and that Ravisara’s studies in Germany would not only benefit her but also Thailand.

Ravisara's DAAD scholarship confirmation letter

Since her first request was denied on the ground that the duration of her studies was too long, Ravisara requested permission to be overseas only until the end of the first semester in February 2023. She also told the court that she can return to Thailand during the holidays to appear in court for witness examination, since the court also denied her last request on the ground that her being overseas would affect the hearings, which were already scheduled.

However, the South Bangkok Criminal Court denied her request on the grounds that her father and the lecturer are both in Thailand, and would not be able to supervise her while she is overseas, so the court does not believe that the condition she proposed is enough to ensure that she will return to Thailand to appear in court. The court also said that it prohibited her from leaving the country because it fears that she will flee, so it does not approve her request to travel overseas.

The court also said that it has not been confirmed that Ravisara has been granted the scholarship, despite the documents she presented confirming that she is a recipient of the DAAD scholarship.

The order denying Ravisara’s request was signed by Manas Phakphuwadol, Research Justice of the Supreme Court, currently serving temporarily as Deputy Chief Justice of the South Bangkok Criminal Court.

Ravisara said she is confused, disappointed, and somewhat angry, since she does not know what else she needs to provide. She has also written in her request that the court can impose additional conditions on her or require more guarantee if it feels that the conditions she proposed are not enough. She is also confused as to why the court believes that her scholarship has not been confirmed despite the documents she submitted. 

“Every time I file the request, I’m already prepared to accept that there is a chance they will refuse me, but am I disappointed? Definitely, because every time I file the request, I also have a hope that I will get it, especially because this time I proposed a lot of conditions, and I have a lot of certificates from many sources, but in the end they didn’t give it to me, so I feel quite disappointed and under the surface slightly angry that this is what they want,” Ravisara said.

Ravisara was due to leave Thailand in early April, since she has to take a 6-month language course before starting her degree. She is still undecided whether to file another request and said she is consulting with her lawyers.

Other people facing charges for participating in the 2020 – 2021 pro-democracy protests have also been denied passports. Sainam (family name withheld), a teenage protester charged with royal defamation for attending a ‘fashion show’ protest, said earlier in 2022 that his passport application was rejected. The Consular Affairs Department was reportedly asked by Yan Nawa Police Station, which brought 112 charges against him, not to issue a passport.

BBC Thai also reported that Dechathorn Bamrungmuang, a member of the band Rap Against Dictatorship known under the stage name HOCKHACKER, found on 25 November 2021 that he could not get a new passport because his name had been placed on a ‘watchlist’ after he voiced criticism of the government.

According to the Thai Enquirer, Samranrat Police Station submitted a request to the Department of Consular Affairs to revoke the passports of 13 people who had been charged with sedition over their involvement in pro-democracy rallies.  Six were listed by name: Jutatip Sirikhan, Korakot Saengyenpan, Suwanna Tanlek, Baramee Chaiyarat and Panumas Singprom.

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