Somkiat Tangnamo under attack

17 02 2009

Prachatai, 17 February 2009: “Chiang Mai University asked to sack dean for signing Ji’s petition against lèse majesté law” translates an important and disturbing story from Matichon (ภาษาไทย, ดู มติชน, ร้อง”สมเกียรติ”พ้นคณบดีมช. เหตุหนุนแก้กม.หมิ่นสถาบัน) that deserves to be quoted in full:

“On Feb 16, a group of teachers, personnel and alumni of Chiang Mai University’s Faculty of Fine Arts released a statement demanding the University Council to dismiss Assoc Prof Somkiart Tangnamo from the deanship of the faculty for signing Giles Ji Ungpakorn’s petition to abolish the lèse majesté law.

According to the statement, Somkiart has been severely criticized in newspapers and websites, including the alumni website, and the university’s reputation has been damaged.  Although he might claim that he acted as a member of the Midnight University (a grouping of academics active in social and political issues), it is hard for the public to understand.  So they asked the Council to dismiss him from his position because Somkiart failed to exercise good judgment and take a proper stance as Dean of the Faculty, with pride and acceptance by Thai society.

‘We want to protect the reputation of the Faculty of Fine Arts of Chiang Mai University, as all of us have firm loyalty to the nation, religion and monarchy,’ said the statement.

Fine Arts teacher Assoc Prof Pongdech Chaiyakut said that the group disagreed with what Somkiart had done and said and had nothing to do with it.”

PPT had a post regarding an attack on Midnight University by Kamnoon Sidhisamarn, a senior Manager columnist and an appointed senator, and raising questions about those academics who signed a petition regarding the lèse majesté law. We also had a post regarding a response to such attacks by Nidhi Eowsriwong from Midnight University. It seems that such attacks continue and PPT knows that other faculty at Chiang Mai University have been the subject of allegations of lèse majesté and have been investigated by university authorities. Even anonomous claims that present no evidence seem to be cause for “investigation.”

The Midnight University response is at its website, in Thai.

From exile in England, Giles Ji Ungpakorn has made this appeal, which PPT posted in full:

“In Thailand it is “a crime” to sign a petition

Supporters of the government, the PAD royalists and the military, are waging a witch hunt against Thai citizens who signed a petition for the abolition of the lese majeste law in Thailand. This law is being used by the present regime to silence any opposition. The PAD media outlet, Manager, is encouraging this witch hunt and has previously encouraged the use of violence against opponents. The Thai government is censoring hundreds of website and throwing people into jail for expressing opinions against the destruction of democracy. The excuse is always that these people have “insulted the king”.

Associate Professor Somkiat Tangnamo from Chiang Mai University, who is a prominent human rights activist and member of the Midnight University, is currently being witch-hunted by some academic staff.

Please send him messages of solidarity and make sure he receives international support: midnightuniv@gmail.com”


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