Academic freedom challenged

12 07 2010

While some academics have been speaking out against the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime, its bloody crackdown and the slide into authoritarianism, these are a brave few. A long report at University World News comments on the impact the government’s censorship has had.

It says that “broadcasting freely is no longer a simple and safe matter since the government crackdown against Red Shirt protesters in May. Many radio stations where academics have spoken in support of anti-government Red Shirt demonstrators have been shut down and academics warned by their own universities against openly broadcasting their opinions.” And the article suggests considerable self-censorship on the part of academics: “… commentators on mainstream radio and television stations have also become more cautious although the change is sometimes subtle…”.  This has “tended to strangle open debate…”.

The censorship is not just from government. The report claims that last month “at least one major university – Chulalongkorn – distributed a circular saying professors should not be ‘openly involved in political conflict’.” Of course, as PPT has pointed out before, this is only related to non-elite factions, for yellow-shirted politics is given full support by many university administrators, most notably at Chulalongkorn, the premier site of academic royalism.

As the report says, under pressure from the regime and from administrators, the “number of people willing to speak out is dwindling by the day.”