Students of Silpakorn University in Thailand came under fire from local activists and netizens after photos of them wearing costumes of Adolf Hitler, Nazi uniforms and the Chinese Red Guards surfaced online.
The cosplaying students, revealed to be from the school’s Faculty of Decorative Arts, were shown in Nazi military get-ups doing the recognizable “Heil Hitler!” salute, reports Khaosod English. Other seniors dressed up as Communist Red Guards, the band of students organized by Mao Zedong in the 1960s to conduct torture and murder of people in China.
University rector Chaicharn Thavaravej released a statement on Tuesday, expressing his apologies for the “irresponsible action” of the involved students. He also stated that the university has sent an apology letter to the Israeli Embassy in Bangkok. He then called out to all parties to refrain from further criticizing the students.
“Please cease all criticisms in any aspect that will lead to more discussion [of this incident] and damage to the reputation of the university even further,” said the statement posted on his Facebook page.
Each student involved will reportedly receive a disciplinary punishment following a review by an investigative committee. The university also plans to conduct an exhibition to educate their students about the holocaust.
The photos were discovered by activist and Education for Liberation group secretary Parit Chiwarak.
“How come people who study arts see authoritarianism as a cool thing?” Parit wrote on Facebook. According to Parit, the students were dressed up for the university’s traditional hazing ritual called “Wan Suk Dib.”
Seniors place the freshmen under extreme pressure by making them go through intense activities. “This cannot be just cosplaying. They link the costumes with their authoritarian activities,” Parit said.