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Thai PM Prayut defends police monitoring of Muslim university students

BANGKOK – Thailand’s prime minister on Tuesday (Sept 17) defended police for requesting information about minority Muslim students from universities around the country, after criticisms of the move as discriminatory and illegal.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said the police request, which follows a series of bomb blasts in Bangkok in August that were blamed on Muslim suspects, was needed to build a national security database.

An official letter from police, shared online by former rights commissioner Angkhana Neelapaijit, asked a university to supply information about the numbers, place of origin, sect affiliation and other details about Muslim-organised student groups. The name of the university was blotted out.

“This is an interference to personal rights and a discrimination based on religion,” Angkhana said, adding that freedom of religion and the right to privacy were guaranteed by the Thai constitution.

About 90 per cent of Thais are Buddhist, though Muslims are a majority in three southern provinces bordering Malaysia.

Prayut said the move was necessary.

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