Academic and other freedoms

27 05 2014

The Bangkok Post reports that a bunch of liberal academics and NGOs have complained about the junta.It counts the “Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI), 77 academics and the NGO Coordinating Committee on Development (NGO-COD)” and says they “all issued separate statements along the same line, urging the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to end the orders.” PPT isn’t sure exactly which “order” are targeted in this statement, but the report does go on to say more.

TDRI president Somkiat Tangkitvanich, who spent a bit of time working with the previous junta’s government, said the think tank was “deeply worried” about a threat to academic freedom in the first days after the coup. Of course, the threat from the coup and the junta is to far, far more freedoms than academic freedom freedom alone. The junta is an illegal organization, in power based on its capacity for organized violence.

Somkiat says: “Those in power should be open-minded to different opinions, especially under the present circumstance when there are no mechanisms to check and balance the power of the state…”. Weak, but the point is clear, yet this is weak-kneed horse manure:

“‘I believe that academic freedom will provide comments and suggestions for the benefit of the NCPO,” the official name of the junta, he added. The generals had threatened legal action against critics, Mr Somkiat said.

See above on Somkiat’s previous work with another illegal junta.

When he talks about “reform … undertaken in a democratic environment,” he sounds pathetic.

A group of 77 scholars “made a similar call, urging the junta to release all anti-coup protesters as well as critical students and scholars.” Good enough, but what about political opponents who have been spirited away? Are they happy enough for red shirt leaders to be political prisoners?

The call for the “military [to]… quickly return power to the people to avoid bloodshed” seems appropriate when combined with this: “Absolute power without accountability and transparency, all the while silencing critics, will never bring peace, equality and justice to any society including Thailand…”.




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