Intimidate, repress, and control I

26 01 2022

The 1932 People Space Library is at Wat Tong Noppakun in Khlong San, Bangkok. It was officially opened on Saturday. On Sunday, it was raided by the regime’s police.

According to Pravit Rojanaphruk, the police later denied they raided the library. In Orwellian terms, it was stated: “We went to talk with the staff.” They went with “5 plainclothes officers from Somdej Chao Phraya Police Station…”.

Why would cops threaten librarians? The library “was previously curated by writer Sulak Sivaraksa, who invited students from various universities in to help develop the space into a social sciences library and a space for discussion about political and social issues.”

And there it is. Troublemaker Sulak, with students, darting to talk about issues and politics. Not permitted in the royalist regime’s state, where independent political space is being squeezed.

Police also denied that “they confiscated a cartoon book praising the monarchy-reform movement and other items at a newly-opened library…”. They “seized a copy of ’10 Ratsadorn,’ one of the picture books in the ‘Nithan Wad Wang’ (‘Dream of Hope Tales’) series about the pro-democracy movement, freedom of expression, diversity, and what young people dream they want the world to be.”

The librarian made comments suggesting that, as usual in such cases, the cops were lying. Feebly, “an officer [said he] took the book to give to his son.”

The librarian “insisted items removed include a volume of cartoon praising the monarchy-reform movement, some 20 to 30 anti-lese majeste law stickers and a red socialist flag with a fist in the middle.”

Another staff member “said one officer used a foul language” as they demanded to know why the police had not been informed of the new library.

Sulak later said that “police acted unlawful without a search warrant.” He added: “This shows they demonstrated how barbaric they were…”.

A few hours later, “police arrived to return … the items, adding that they had to pay a visit because the boss asked them to check the library out.”

An activist explained:

If we are reading quietly, that is allowed, but if we talk about it in public, the state tries to make this into something scary, to make it seem something we cannot do. Does it have an effect? There may be hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions of people like me. Some people may not be brave enough to express themselves….

The regime hopes that measures like this intimidate, repress, and control.


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