Updated: Scholars for academic freedom

5 03 2015

This open letter is widely available, as it should be. We reproduce it here as a matter of record, where some of the world’s leading scholars and many of the new generation of scholars, including those who research and write on Thailand, express strong support for academic freedom and for Dr. Somsak Jeamteerasakul, cruelly sacked by royalist administrators and puppets at Thammasat University:

As concerned international observers of Thailand, we stand in solidarity with our colleagues who have condemned the summary dismissal of Dr. Somsak Jeamteerasakul by Thammasat University on 23 February 2015. We have watched with growing concern as the space for freedom of expression has shrunk precipitously in Thailand since the 22 May 2014 coup by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO). By choosing to join with the NCPO to attack Dr. Somsak Jeamteerasakul, the Thammasat University administration has abdicated its responsibility to protect academic freedom and nurture critical thinking. While academic freedom is not worthy of protection greater than that of the right to freedom of expression of all citizens, the impact of its destruction during a time of dictatorship is particularly severe as it prevents students and scholars, those whose daily job is to think about knowledge and its implications, from imagining and working to return to a democratic regime founded on the protection of rights and liberties.

For more than twenty years, Dr. Somsak Jeamteerasakul has been a lecturer in the Department of History and has trained and inspired many students at Thammasat University. As a public intellectual, he has produced a significant body of work in modern Thai history that has impacted and challenged Thai society beyond the walls of the university. His critical stance has made those in power uncomfortable, and in 2011 he faced an accusation from the Army of violating Article 112, the section of the Criminal Code that addresses alleged lèse majesté. In February 2014, there was an attempt on his life when armed gunmen shot at his house and car with automatic weapons. Concerned about his life and liberty following the May 2014 coup, Dr. Somsak fled the country. He was subsequently summoned to report by the junta, and when he did not, the NCPO issued a warrant for his arrest and appearance in military court, as examination of violations of the junta’s orders was placed within the jurisdiction of the military court following the coup. In December 2014, he submitted his resignation. However, rather than accept his resignation, Thammasat University fired Dr. Somsak.

We stand in solidarity with our colleagues who note that, at the very least, Dr. Somsak Jeamteerasakul should be permitted to appeal the decision by Thammasat University to summarily dismiss him. In addition, he should be permitted to fight any legal charges against him in the civilian criminal court, not the military court. We further call on Thammasat University and all universities in Thailand to take an active and leading role in support of academic freedom and freedom of expression in a broad sense. To think differently is not a crime. If one cannot do so within the walls of the university, spaces of learning and the pursuit of truth, then the space to do so outside those walls will dwindle as well.

Update: This from Matichonวันที่ 5 มีนาคม 2558 ผู้สื่อข่าวรายงานว่า  กลุ่มนักวิชา นักคิด นักเขียน การจำนวน 238 คน จาก 19 ประเทศ ร่วมกันออกแถลงการณ์ เป็นจดหมายเปิดผนึก ในหัวข้อ “นักวิชาการ นักเขียน นักคิด เรียกร้องขอให้เสรีภาพทางวิชาการกลับมาในประเทศไทย” ซึ่งเผยแพร่เมื่อวันที่ 4 มีนาคม ที่ผ่านมา จากกรณีที่มหาวิทยาลัยธรรมศาสตร์ ได้มีคำสั่งไล่ออก นายสมศักดิ์ เจียมธีรสุกล โดยขอเรียกร้องต่อเสรีภาพทางวิชาการ ซึ่งถ้อยความในแถลงการณ์ได้กล่าวถึงข้อเท็จจริงที่ว่า ตลอด 9 เดือนหลังจากที่คสช. ได้ก่อรัฐประหารครั้งล่าสุดในประเทศไทย ซึ่งนับเป็นรัฐประหารครั้งที่ 13 ตั้งแต่การเปลี่ยนแปลงการปกครอง 24 มิถุนายน 2475 ทางกลุ่มได้ออกมาเรียกร้องขอให้มีเสรีภาพทางวิชาการในประเทศไทย โดยเสนอข้อเรียกร้องด้วยจิตวิญญาณภราดรภาพและความเคารพต่อความจริง ซึ่งก่อนหน้านี้ก็มีนักวิชาการไทยจำนวนไม่น้อยที่ออกแถลงการณ์เมื่อสัปดาห์ที่แล้ว หลังจากที่ ดร. สมศักดิ์ เจียมธีรสกุล ถูกไล่ออกจากตำแหน่งที่มหาวิทยาลัยธรรมศาสตร์อย่างไม่เป็นธรรม กลุ่มนักวิชาการ 238 คนนี้ตั้งข้อสังเกตว่าว่ามีการจำกัดสิทธิเสรีภาพในการแสดงออกอย่างสูงและอยู่ในภาวะน่าเป็นห่วง  พวกเขาวิจารณ์การไล่ดร.สมศักดิ์ออกว่าเป็นตัวอย่างของความร่วมมือระหว่างมหาวิทยาลัยธรรมศาสตร์และคณะทหาร

ทั้ง นี้กลุ่มนักวิชาการ238คนนี้ไม่ได้ยกเสรีภาพทางวิชาการว่ามีความสำคัญเหนือ กว่าเสรีภาพในการแสดงออกของประชาชนทุกคนหากแต่พวกเขาตั้งข้อสังเกตว่าการลิด รอนเสรีภาพทางวิชาการเป็นสิ่งที่ยิ่งอันตรายในช่วงนี้เนื่องจากเป็นการ“ขัด ขวางการเรียนการสอนของบรรดาอาจารย์และนักศึกษา ที่ภาระหน้าที่ปกติประจำวันคือการคิดและการพิจารณาความรู้และความหมาย ก่อให้เกิดการจำกัดจินตนาการและการทำงาน และขัดขวางการกลับคืนสู่ระบอบที่มีการปกป้องสิทธิเสรีภาพเป็นหลัก”

กลุ่ม 238 นักวิชาการ นักคิด และนักเขียนนี้มาจาก 19 ประเทศ ประกอบด้วยประเทศออสเตรเลีย  ออสเตรีย  แคนาดา โคลัมเบีย เดนมาร์ก ฝรั่งเศส  ญี่ปุ่น มาเลเซีย เนเธอร์แลนด์ ฟิลิปปินส์ สิงคโปร์ เกาหลี สวีเดน ไต้หวัน ประเทศไทย ตุรกี  อังกฤษ และสหรัฐอเมริกา ซึ่งในตอนท้ายของจดหมาย นักวิชาการกลุ่มนี้ เรียกร้องให้มหาวิทยาลัยธรรมศาสตร์ และ ทุกๆ มหาวิทยาลัยในประเทศไทย “ก้าวออกมาเป็นผู้นำในการสนับสนุนเสรีภาพทางวิชาการและเสรีภาพในการ แสดงออกอย่างกว้างขวาง”พร้อมกับเสนอว่า“การคิดต่างกันไม่ใช่อาชญากรรมถ้าหาก ไม่ได้คิดต่างกันในรั้วมหวิทยาลัยอันเป็นพื้นที่การเรียนการสอนและการแสวงหา ความจริงแล้วพื้นที่สำหรับความคิดนอกรั้วมหาวิทยาลัยจะเริ่มหดหายไปเช่นกัน”

Signed,

1. Patricio N. Abinales, Professor, School of Pacific and Asian Studies, University of Hawaii-Manoa

2. Jeremy Adelman, Princeton University

3. Nadje Al-Ali, Professor of Gender Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

4. Robert B. Albritton, Professor Emeritus, Department of Political Science, University of Mississippi

5. Saowanee T. Alexander, Ubon Ratchathani University, Thailand

6. Tariq Ali, Author

7. Aries A. Arugay, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, University of the Philippines-Diliman

8. Indrė Balčaitė, PhD candidate, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

9. Joshua Barker, Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Toronto

10. Veysel Batmaz, Professor, Istanbul University, Turkey

11. Bryce Beemer, History Department, Colby College

12. Trude Bennett, Emeritus Professor, School of Public Health, UNC

13. Clarinda Berja, Professor and Chair of the Department of Social Sciences, University of the Philippines-Manila.

14. Kristina Maud Bergeron, Agente de recherche et chercheuse associée, Chaire en entrepreneuriat minier UQAT-UQAM, Université du Québec à Montréal

15. Chris Berry, Professor, Department of Film Studies, King’s College London

16. Robert J. Bickner, Emeritus Professor (Thai), Department of Languages and Cultures of Asia, University of Wisconsin

17. David J.H. Blake, Independent Scholar, United Kingdom

18. John Borneman, Professor of Antbropology, Princeton University

19. Katherine Bowie, Professor of Anthropology, University of Wisconsin-Madison

20. Francis R. Bradley, Assistant Professor of History, Pratt Institute

21. Eloise A. Brière, Professor of French and Francophone Studies Emerita, University at Albany – SUNY

22. Lisa Brooten, Associate Professor, College of Mass Communication and Media Arts, Southern Illinois University

23. Andrew Brown, Lecturer in Political and International Studies, University of New England

24. James Brown, PhD Candidate, Department of Development Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

25. Din Buadaeng, Université Paris-Diderot (Paris 7)

26. Michael Burawoy, Professor, University of California, Berkeley

27. David Camroux, Associate Professor – Senior Researcher, Sciences Po

28. Rosa Cordillera Castillo, PhD candidate, Freie Universität Berlin

29. Danielle Celermajer, Professor and Director, Enhancing Human Rights Project, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Sydney

30. Pavin Chachavalpongpun, Associate Professor, Kyoto University

31. Thak Chaloemtiarana, Professor, Cornell University

32. Anita Chan, Research Professor, China-Australia Relations Institute (ACRI), University of Technology, Sydney

33. Pandit Chanrochanakit, Visiting Scholar Thai Studies Program, Asia Center, Harvard University (Faculty of Political Science Ramkhamhaeng University)

34. Nick Cheesman, Research Fellow, Political and Social Change, Australian National University

35. Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor & Professor of Linguistics (Emeritus), MIT

36. Lawrence Chua, Assistant Professor, School of Architecture, Syracuse University

37. Nerida M. Cook, Ph.D.

38. Simon Creak, Lecturer in Southeast Asian History, University of Melbourne

39. Robert Cribb, Professor of Asian History, Australian National University

40. Linda Cuadra, MA Student, University of Washington, Jackson School of International Studies

41. Robert Dayley, Professor of Political Economy, The College of Idaho

42. Yorgos Dedes, Senior Lecturer in Turkish, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

43. Arif Dirlik, Knight Professor of Social Science, Retired, University of Oregon

44. Rick Doner, Professor, Department of Political Science, Emory University

45. Ariel Dorfman, Author and Distinguished Professor, Duke University

46. Ana Dragojlovic, UQ Postdoctoral Research Fellow, The University of Queensland

47. Alexis Dudden, Professor of History, University of Connecticut

48. Richard Dyer, Professor, King’s College London and St. Andrews, Fellow of the British Academy

49. Taylor M. Easum, Assistant Professor of History, University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point

50. Nancy Eberhardt, Professor and Chair, Department of Anthropology and Sociology, Knox College

51. Eli Elinoff, National University of Singapore

52. Olivier Evrard, Insitut de recherche pour le Développement, France & Chiang Mai University, Faculty of Social Sciences

53. Nicholas Farrelly, Fellow, ANU

54. Jessica Fields, Associate Professor, Sociology, San Francisco State University

55. Alfredo Saad Filho, Professor, Department of Development Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

56. Amanda Flaim, Postdoctoral Associate, Duke University, Sanford School of Public Policy

57. Tim Forsyth, Professor, International Development, London School of Economics and Political Science

58. Arnika Fuhrmann, Assistant Professor of Asian Studies, Cornell University

59. V.V. Ganeshananthan, Writer, Bunting Fellow, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University

60. Paul K. Gellert, Associate Professor, University of Tennessee-Knoxville

61. Charles Geisler, Professor of Development Sociology, Cornell University

62. Henry Giroux, Author and Professor, McMaster University

63. Parvis Ghassem-Fachandi, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, Rutgers University

64. Jim Glassman, Professor, University of British Columbia

65. Lawrence Grossberg, Morris Davis Distinguished Professor of Communication Studies and Cultural Studies, UNC-Chapel Hill

66. Merly Guanumen, Professor of International Relations, Javeriana University

67. Tessa Maria Guazon, Assistant Professor, Department of Art Studies College of Arts and Letters University of the Philippines-Diliman

68. Geoffrey Gunn, Emeritus, Nagasaki University

69. Tyrell Haberkorn, Fellow, Department of Political and Social Change, Australian National University

70. Vedi Hadiz, Professor of Asian Societies and Politics, Asia Research Centre, Murdoch University

71. Jeffrey Hadler, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies, U.C. Berkeley

72. Paul Handley, Journalist and Author

73. Eva Hansson, Senior Lecturer, Political Science and Coordinator, Forum for Asian Studies, Stockholm University

74. Harry Harootunian, Max Palevsky Professor of History, Emeritus, University of Chicago

75. Gillian Hart, Professor of Geography, University of California-Berkeley

76. Yoko Hayami, Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University

77. Chris Hedges, Author

78. Ariel Heryanto, Professor, School of Culture, History, and Language, Australian National University

79. Michael Herzfeld, Ernest E. Monrad Professor of the Social Sciences, Department of Anthropology, Harvard University

80. Kevin Hewison, Sir Walter Murdoch Professor of Politics and International Studies, Murdoch University

81. Allen Hicken, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Michigan

82. CJ Hinke, Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT), Independent scholar

83. Philip Hirsch, Professor of Human Geography, University of Sydney

84. Tessa J. Houghton, Director, Centre for the Study of Communications and Culture, University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus

85. May Adadol Ingawanij, Reader, Centre for Research and Education in Arts and Media, University of Westminster

86. Noboru Ishikawa, Professor, Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University

87. Sunisa Ittichaiyo, Ph.D. student, Faculty of Law, Augsburg University

88. Soren Ivarsson, Associate Professor, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

89. Peter A. Jackson, Professor, College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University

90. Arthit Jiamrattanyoo, Ph.D. Student, University of Washington

91. Lee Jones, Senior Lecturer in International Politics, Queen Mary, University of London

92. Andrew Alan Johnson, Assistant Professor, Yale-NUS College

93. Hjorleifur Jonsson, Associate Professor of Anthropology, School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University

94. Teresa Jopson, PhD candidate at the Australian National University

95. Sarah Joseph, Professor, Castan Centre for Human Rights Law, Monash University

96. Amanda Joy, Instructor and PhD Candidate, Carleton University

97. Alexander Karn, Assistant Professor of History, Colgate University

98. Tatsuki Kataoka, Associate Professor of the Graduate School of
Asian and African Area Studies, Kyoto University

99. Ward Keeler, Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Texas-Austin

100. Charles Keyes, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology and International Studies, University of Washington

101. Akkharaphong Khamkhun, Pridi Banomyong International College, Thammasat University

102. Gaik Cheng Khoo, Associate Professor, University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus

103. Sherryl Kleinman, Professor of Sociology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

104. Lars Peter Laamann, Department of History, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

105. John Langer, Independent researcher and broadcaster

106. Tomas Larsson, Lecturer, University of Cambridge

107. Pinkaew Laungaramsri, Visiting Scholar, Harvard Yenching Institute, Harvard University

108. Doreen Lee, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Northeastern University

109. Namhee Lee, Associate Professor of Modern Korean History, University of California, Los Angeles

110. Terence Lee, Assistant Professor of Political Science, National University of Singapore

111. Christian C. Lentz, Assistant Professor of Geography, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

112. Busarin Lertchavalitsakul, PhD Candidate, University of Amsterdam

113. Daniel J. Levine, Assistant Professor of Political Science, The University of Alabama

114. Samson Lim, Assistant Professor, Singapore University of Technology and Design

115. Peter Limqueco, Editor Emeritus, Journal of Contemporary Asia

116. Johan Lindquist, Associate Professor, Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University

117. Kah Seng Loh, Assistant Professor at the Institute for East Asian Studies, Sogang University

118. Larry Lohmann, The Corner House

119. Tamara Loos, Associate Professor, History and Southeast Asian Studies, Cornell University

120. Taylor Lowe, PhD Student in Anthropology, the University of Chicago

121. Catherine Lutz, Thomas J. Watson, Jr. Family Professor of Anthropology and International Studies, Brown University

122. Chris Lyttleton, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Macquarie University

123. Regina Estorba Macalandag, Asia Center for Sustainable Futures, Assistant Professor, Holy Name University

124. Andrew MacGregor Marshall, Independent journalist and scholar

125. Ken MacLean Associate Professor of International Development and Social Change, Clark University

126. M F Makeen, Senior Lecturer in Commercial Law, SOAS, University of London

127. Neeranooch Malangpoo, PhD. student, Department of Anthropology, University of Wisconsin-Madison

128. Amporn Marddent, School of Liberal Arts, Walailak University

129. Jovan Maud, Lecturer, Institut für Ethnologie, Georg-August University

130. Duncan McCargo, Professor of Political Science, University of Leeds

131. Mary E. McCoy, Associate Faculty, University of Wisconsin-Madison

132. Kaja McGowan, Associate Professor of Art History, Cornell University

133. Kate McGregor, University of Melbourne

134. Shawn McHale, Associate Professor of History, George Washington University

135. Gayatri Menon, Faculty, Azim Premji University

136. Eugenie Merieau, INALCO, Paris

137. Marcus Mietzner, Associate Professor, Australian National University

138. Elizabeth Miller, Previous Thai language student at Ohio University

139. Owen Miller, Lecturer in Korean Studies, Department of Japan and Korea, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

140. Mary Beth Mills, Professor of Anthropology, Colby College

141. Bruce Missingham, Lecturer, Geography & Environmental Science, Monash University

142. Art Mitchells-Urwin, PhD candidate in Thai Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

143. Dan Monk, George R. and Myra T. Cooley Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies, Colgate University

144. Michael Montesano, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore

145. Samuel Moyn, Professor of Law and History, Harvard University

146. Marjorie Muecke, Adjunct Professor, Family and Community Health, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, Paul G Rogers Ambassador for Global Health Research

147. Yukti Mukdawijitra, Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Wisconsin-Madison

148. Laura Mulvey, Professor, Department of Film, Media and Cultural Studies, School of Arts, Birkbeck, University of London

149. Ben Murtagh, Senior Lecturer in Indonesian and Malay, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

150. Fumio Nagai, Professor, Osaka City University

151. Kanda Naknoi, Department of Economics, University of Connecticut

152. Andrew Ng, Associate Professor, School of Arts and Social Sciences, Monash University, Malaysia

153. Don Nonini, Professor of Anthropology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

154. Pál Nyiri , Professor of Global History from an Anthropological Perspective, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam

155. Rachel O’Toole, Associate Professor of History, University of California, Irvine

156. Akin Oyètádé, Senior Lecturer, School of Oriental and African Studies

157. Jonathan Padwe, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, University of Hawaiˈi at Mānoa

158. Ajay Parasram, Doctoral Candidate, Carleton University Ottawa

159. Eun-Hong Park, Professor, Faculty of Social Science, Sungkonghoe University

160. Prasannan Parthassarathi, Professor of History, Boston College

161. Raj Patel, Research Professor, Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, The University of Texas at Austin.

162. Quentin Pearson III, Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, Wheaton College

163. Thomas Pepinsky, Associate Professor of Government, Cornell University

164. Penchan Phoborisuth, University of Utah

165. Sheldon Pollock, Arvind Raghunathan Professor of Sanskrit and South Asian Studies, Columbia University in the City of New York

166. Chalermpat Pongajarn, PhD candidate, Wageningen University

167. Pitch Pongsawat, Visiting Scholar, Harvard Yenching Institute, Harvard University

168. Tim Rackett, UK

169. Rahul Rao, Senior Lecturer in Politics, SOAS, University of London

170. Malavika Reddy, PhD Candidate, University of Chicago

171. Luke Robinson, Lecturer, University of Sussex

172. Garry Rodan, Professor of Politics & International Studies, Asia Research Centre, Murdoch University

173. John Roosa, Associate Professor, Department of History, University of British Columbia

174. Robin Roth, Associate Professor, Department of Geography, York University

175. Ulrich Karl Rotthoff, Assistant Professor, Asian Center,
University of the Philippines

176. Pakpoom Saengkanokkul, PhD student, INALCO, Paris, France

177. Jiratorn Sakulwattana, PhD student

178. Ton Salman, Associate Professor and Head of Department, Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

179. Saskia Sassen, Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology, Department of Sociology and Chair, Committee on Global Thought, Columbia University

180. Wolfram Schaffar, Professor, Department of Development Studies, University of Vienna

181. Sarah Schulman, City University of New York

182. James C. Scott, Sterling Professor of Political Science and Anthropology, Yale University

183. Raymond Scupin, Director, Center for International and Global Studies, Lindenwood University

184. Laurie J. Sears, Professor of History, Director, Southeast Asia Center, University of Washington

185. Mark Selden, Senior Research Associate, East Asia Program, Cornell University

186. Yeoh Seng-Guan, Monash University Malaysia

187. Bo Kyeong Seo, Australian National University

188. John T. Sidel, Sir Patrick Gillam Professor of International and Comparative Politics, London School of Economics and Political Science

189. Roland G. Simbulan, Professor in Development Studies and Public Management, University of the Philippines

190. Subir Sinha, Senior Lecturer, Department of Development Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

191. Aim Sinpeng, Lecturer in Comparative Politics, University of Sydney

192. Aranya Siriphon, Visiting Scholar, Harvard Yenching Institute, Harvard University

193. Dan Slater, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Chicago

194. Jay M. Smith, Professor of History, UNC-Chapel Hill

195. Claudio Sopranzetti, Postdoctoral Fellow, All Souls College, Oxford University

196. Paul Stasi, Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies, SUNY-Albany

197. Irene Stengs, Senior Researcher, Meertens Institute/Research and Documentation of Language and Culture in the Netherlands/Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences

198. Carolyn Strange, Senior Fellow, School of History, Australian National University

199. Wanrug Suwanwattana, PhD student, Oxford University

200. David Szanton, UC Berkeley, emeritus

201. Eduardo Climaco Tadem, Ph.D., Professor of Asian Studies, University of the Philippines Diliman

202. Teresa S. Encarnacion Tadem, Ph.D, Professor, Department of Political Science, University of the Philippines Diliman

203. Neferti Tadiar, Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Barnard College, Columbia University

204. Danielle Tan, Lecturer, Institute for East Asian Studies (IAO-ENS Lyon), Sciences Po Lyon

205. Michelle Tan

206. Tanabe Shigeharu, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka, Japan

207. Nicola Tannenbaum, Professor of Anthropology, Lehigh University

208. Nicholas Tapp, Professor Emeritus, Australian National University, Director, Research Institute of Anthropology, East China Normal University

209. Ben Tausig, Assistant Professor, Stony Brook University

210. Nora A. Taylor, Alsdorf Professor of South and South East Asian Art, School of the Art Institute of Chicago

211. Philip Taylor, Senior Fellow, Anthropology, Australian National University

212. Julia Adeney Thomas, Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Notre Dame

213. Barry Trachtenberg, Associate Professor, History Department, Director, Judaic Studies Program, University at Albany

214. Tran Thi Liên, Associate Professor, History of Southeast Asia,
University Paris Diderot-Paris 7

215. Andrew Turton, Reader Emeritus in Social Anthropology at the University of London

216. Jonathan Unger, Professor, Department of Political and Social Change, Australian National University

217. Jane Unrue, Harvard College Writing Program, Harvard University

218. Sara Van Fleet, University of Washington

219. Peter Vandergeest, Geography, York University, Toronto

220. Boonlert Visetpricha, PhD candidate at University of Wisconsin- Madison, Department of Anthropology

221. Joel Wainwright, Associate Professor, Department of Geography, Ohio State University

222. Andrew Walker, Professor of Southeast Asian Studies, The Australian National University

223. Kheetanat Wannaboworn, Master’s Degree Student, Sciences Po Paris

224. Thomas Weber, DPhil

225. Meredith Weiss, Associate Professor of Political Science, University at Albany, SUNY

226. Marina Welker, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology

227. Bridget Welsh, Senior Research Associate, Center for East Asia Demcracy, National Taiwan University

228. Marion Werner, Assistant Professor, Department of Geography, University at Buffalo, SUNY

229. Frederick F. Wherry, Professor of Sociology, Yale University

230. Erick White, Visiting Fellow, Southeast Asia Program, Cornell University

231. Dhrista Wichterich, Gastprofessur Geschlechterpolitik, Fachbereich Gesellschaftswissenschaften, Universität Kassel

232. Sutida Wimuttikosol, PhD student, King’s College London

233. Thongchai Winichakul, Professor of History, University of Wisconsin-Madison

234. Hiram Woodward, Curator Emeritus, Asian Art, Walters Art Museum

235. Theodore Jun Yoo, University of Hawaii at Manoa

236. Karin Zackari, PhD candidate, Human Rights Studies, Department of History, Lund University

237. Peter Zinoman, Professor of History and Southeast Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley

238. Rebecca Zorach, Professor of Art History, Romance Languages, and the College, University of Chicago





Updated: Prayuth livid on US comments

29 01 2015

General Prayth Chan-ocha, known widely as The Dictator of Thailand, is livid that he was both snubbed and criticized by a visiting U.S. official. PPT earlier posted on the comments by Daniel Russel, the US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

At Khaosod it is reported that Prayuth ordered his ministers to denounce Russel’s speech (full text here). PPT heard that he was furious about Russel’s speech at Chulalongkorn University. But he is then reported to have “repeated his remarks in a meeting with Gen. Thanasak Patimaprakorn, a member of the Thai junta and the Minister of Foreign Affairs.”

Indicating his limited knowledge of international affairs and the United States, Thanasak, referring to the maintenance of martial law, “asked Mr. Daniel [Russel], if your country is like ours, with all the factors and restrictions, what would you do without martial law?” Junta spokesperson, Maj. Gen. Sansern Kaewkamnerd claimed the envoy “… could not answer that question, because his country never faced such a situation before.”

A venomous Prayuth also dismissed the US diplomat’s call for lifting of martial law, asking: “If we don’t have martial law, won’t it lead to chaos?… I am not bothering anyone. I only want to make this country peaceful.”

He went on to claim: “There are only few nations that are still stuck on the word democracy. But these countries still trade with us as usual. No one pressures us at all. Some countries even say, Thailand is in better shape than ever. It’s just that they cannot say they agree with us.”

We recall that Thaksin Shinwatra was once was criticized for comments that seemed to make democracy a means to an end. Prayuth, as The Dictator, can’t be criticized for having a view of democracy as nothing but a word.

Khaosod reports that exiled political dissident Somsak Jeamteerasakul “offered an answer to the question Gen. Thanasak reportedly posed to Russel during their meeting.” He says the U.S., faced with the situation Yingluck Shinawatra was in, would have seen the President “would relieve the army chief of his command and court-martial him on a charge of high treason.”

Never in Thailand, where the king is commander in chief and the military brass owe their position and personal wealth to the palace and military corruption.

Update: Prachatai has loaded the video of Russel’s speech.





Repressing “the few”

18 12 2014

As everyone knows, the military dictatorship is ultra-royalist and desperate to “defend” and “protect” the monarchy and the system of power and recession it stands for.

This is why it is “normal” to view yet another report, this one at the Bangkok Post, that has a senior junta general declaring that “Thailand has asked countries where lese majeste suspects are believed to be hiding to extradite them so they can face legal action…”.

Deputy Dictator General Prawit Wongsuwon knows that most countries of the world do not have ludicrous and medieval laws like lese majeste. Most of them do not have extradition treaties with Thailand. This means that “extradiction” is pretty much a nonsense. Equally nonsensical is Prawit’s claim that he’s reporting lese majeste suspects to Interpol.

Prawit explained that The Dictator and self-appointed Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha “wants all fugitives in lese majeste cases who have fled abroad, including Thammasat University history lecturer Somsak Jeamteerasakul, to return and fight the cases.” As everyone knows, “fighting” a lese majeste charge is virtually impossible, with almost all those accused eventually being convicted following long periods o jail time where bail is repeatedly refused.

In the same report, Army chief General Udomdej Sitabutr, who is also a part of the junta, is reported as declaring that the military dictatorship’s massive lese majeste dragnet does not amount to having the “the law … applied too stringently.” It is just that the “army is working with various agencies to tackle the problem…”.

Udomdej is like most ultra-royalists, and can simply not grasp that others can think differently from himself and the people he surrounds himself with: “I think most people in the country love and respect the monarchy while only a few have a different point of view…”. He sounds like someone who believes palace propaganda when he declares:

“They [people opposed to the lese majeste law] may forget that our nation has remained peaceful for as long as it has because we have a monarch who has long been the soul of the nation and who has dedicated his time and energy to his people…”.

In such circumstances, it is “normal” for him to declare that he can’t think of a single case where the “lese majeste law has been abused for political reasons…”. In fact, every lese majeste case is political and is an abuse of human rights.

Tracking down “the few,” keeping them jailed without bail and denying constitutional rights is not a case of the regime having “abused any law to intimidate anyone…”. Udomdej is either lying or is dense or both.





Hunting and hating critics

17 12 2014

The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, who selected himself to be premier, is worried. Or at least he claims to be. He is apparently under pressure to arrest and jail dissidents who have fled abroad.

Khaosod reports that The Dictator has had to explain [to whom we are not sure] that the “authorities are seeking to extradite critics of the Thai monarchy living abroad for legal prosecution in Thailand but that progress is slow. Perhaps he is explaining to the “uneducate” amongst the ultra-royalists who do not understand that the Thai military dictatorship’s powers are limited. Perhaps he is explaining to the “uneducate” amongst the ultra-royalists who do not understand that other countries have laws. Perhaps he is explaining to the “uneducate” amongst the ultra-royalists who do not understand that lese majeste is a feudal remnant that is only regularly used in royalist Thailand.

Prayuth declared: “You can’t expect me to have all of them arrested right now.”

Royalist wanted poster

He also complained that some of the “wanted” critics didn’t play “fair.” Apparently, they “told security officers they would stop commenting on the monarchy, only to later flee abroad and continue with their ‘libelous’ remarks.” Prayuth is hardly one to complain about this. After all, he is a skilled practitioner of the publicly spoken lie.

But never fear dear ultra-royalists, for The Dictator is there to protect the royalist regime: “We are monitoring them…. We have many agencies involved in this, the ICT [Ministry of Information, Communication, and Technology], the army, the Ministry of Defence. We have many.”

Prayuth went on to attack Thammasat University professor Somsak Jeamteerasakul, “who fled Thailand shortly after the military staged a coup on 22 May 2014″ and is living in exile in France.

Somsak has been a particular target for Prayuth. When he was Army chief, Prayuth was behind a lese majeste accusation against Somsak. Then, in February 2014, Khaosod reported that Prayuth was at it again: “The Royal Thai Army is considering a legal action against a prominent historian for his remarks about the monarchy…”. Acting for Prayuth, the Army claimed that Somsak “gravely insulted the Royal Family in his Facebook posts.” At the time, Somsak stated that “he has been simply parodying and criticising certain type of royalists.” He asked: “Can′t the Army Commander-in-Chief read Thai?” The Army then promised “unspecified ‘social measures’ to deter such inappropriate action.” The result was thugs attacking Somsak’s house.

Now The Dictator attacks Somsak for daring to write about the decrepit monarchy: “For example, Mr. Somsak, today he is still writing about the monarchy… All of you have seen that. He writes about this, he writes about that, he just keeps writing.” Prayuth seems befuddled: “He’s a teacher, how could he do this?… He can’t teach people to break the law. He’s supposed to teach people to respect the law. I don’t know what will happen in the future, but as for today, I cannot allow this to happen.”

Prayuth prefers no critics and would hope that all Thais would be disciplined and arranged in a hierarchy, just like the fascist military that socialized him as an ultra-royalist dolt.

Responding to The Dictator, Somsak took to Facebook declaring he was “exceedingly satisfied” that The Dictator mentioned him. He lampooned Prayuth: “It’s been less than a month since I returned to writing [on Facebook], but Our Dear Leader has noticed me already.”





Regime challenges

25 11 2014

Readers following Thailand’s politics will recognize that there have been a series of events that have challenged the military dictatorship in recent days. These events may be suppressed, but they represent a turn in events, as anti-coup activists are not simply going away, as the regime had hoped.

Many of these activists are relatively young students. They have used three-finger salutes, social media and a a range of activities to directly challenge the junta and its royalist regime. They are seemingly inviting arrest by the jittery authorities. They seem unafraid of the prospect of police or military action against them.

The most recent example is of university students at Thammasat University’s inner city campus. At least eight students distributed leaflets at the campus celebrating the return to Facebook of prominent historian and monarchy critic Somsak Jeamteerasakul, who went into hiding after the 22 May coup and who has apparently fled to France.Leaflet

Police swiftly arrested eight students for distributing the leaflets. According to Khaosod, the leaflets included “an excerpt from a poem by the late historian and activist Chit Phumisak, who was summarily executed by authorities in 1966,” which had been cited by Somsak on Facebook. It stated: “Even in the ruthless era when evils rule the country with their guns … people are still people.”

The student activists were members of the League of Liberal Thammasat for Democracy (LLTD), described as “an anti-coup student group based in Thammasat.” This group has been a persistent and brave opponent of the military dictatorship.

Prachatai reports that: “One of the detained students is Natchacha Kongudom, a Bangkok University student who was previously arrested for flashing the forbidden ‘three finger salute’ in front of Siam Paragon cinema in Bangkok downtown on 19 November.”

Persistent challenges to the military and royalist regime by brave young students are emblematic of a broader change that has wafted through Thailand in recent decades and suggests a rejection of the hierarchical traditions of monarchy and military that may well become louder and will resonate more widely as the regime seeks to re-embed authoritarian structures.

In responding, the military dictatorship has urged that protests be curtailed. General Prawit Wongsuwan babbled about “opinion surveys that show most people disapprove of anti-coup protests.” Prawit asked that protesters keep quiet for a year: “We only ask for one year to achieve our mission…”. Meanwhile, The Dictator has directed the National Reform Council (NRC) and the King Prajadhipok Institute to “allow students to participate in the reform process by expressing their views and knowledge.” This seems like his attempt to direct student opposition into the junta’s controlled environment.

 





More comical military lies

30 08 2014

We assume that having to be in exile is not a joke. But the military dictatorship’s recent call for political opponents to return to Thailand for a “fair trial” is comical.

Khaosod reports that the junta’s spokesperson Colonel Winthai Suvaree as stating: “We want them to come back. We never shut the door to them. We never prohibit them [from coming back]…”. He went on to claim that The Dictator Prayuth Chan-ocha “has personally invited all dissidents to return to Thailand, with promises to treat them fairly.”

To be honest, PPT does not believe that Prayuth understands “fairness.” This is snipped from Wikipedia [click on the image for a larger view]:Fairness

The record of the military and the judiciary is of remarkable double standards that could not be further from any notion of fairness. Winthai, and presumably The Dictator too, was responding to a comment by a lawyer numerous opposition activists and lese majeste defendants. The record on lese majeste is clear: even laws, international conventions and constitutional provisions are routinely ignored in seeking to punish the accused.

Those who have fled the countryinclude “former Minister of Interior Affairs Charupong Ruangsuwan, Redshirt leader and former Deputy House Speaker Apiwan  Wiriyachai, and historian and critic of the Thai monarchy Somsak Jiamteerasakul.”

Winthai added to the lies by disingenuously stating:

“The case is the duty of the police to decide how to proceed. Everything is in accordance with the law. The NCPO will merely ask for cooperation [from Mr. Apiwan] to come back and contest the charge in Thailand,” Col. Winthai said. “Let me stress that we have no policy of hunting down individuals who are taking exile abroad.”

The media has quoted several officials who claim to be hunting down those overseas and seeking extradition. Think of Aum Neko as just one example. Winthai lied further – has he no shame? – “People who are contesting their charges in the country, those that don’t run away, get their bail release.” This is clearly, unequivocally a blatant untruth. Khaosod gives an example:

Contrary to Col. Winthai’s claim, a Thai criminal court recently denied a bail release for two activists charged with lese majeste for their role in a play that was performed in October last year. Police say the theater performance was offensive to the Thai Royal Family.

The two activists are currently imprisoned as they await their trial. If found guilty, they could face up to 15 years in jail.

What is the purpose of continually and intentionally making false statements? After all, everyone know that these are lies. We at PPT can only assume that the military is so accustomed to false claims and impunity that they can no longer detect the truth.





Monarchy madness increases

5 08 2014

Under the military dictatorship the role of the monarchy has been elevated to an astral level. The Leader, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, soon to grab the premiership for himself, claims to hold the monarchy in the highest possible esteem.

Monarchism underpins or justifies all the political operations of the military dictatorship. It is lese majeste that has been a significant element of political repression.

Even with all of this mad monarchism, PPT is still confused by a recent Khaosod report, where it is reported that the media regulator, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), “has fined Thai PBS channel for broadcasting discussion about Thai monarchy, a taboo subject in Thailand.” The report states:

The episodes [of Tob Jote], presented in a series called “Monarchy and Constitution”, featured a number of historians and politicians talked with well-known TV host Pinyo Traisuriyathamma about the roles of the Royal Family in modern history.

The most controversial episodes were the debates between Thammasat University historian and regular critic of Thai monarchy Somsak Jiamteerasakul and prominent royalist writer Sulak Sivalak, in which Mr. Somsak argued that the power in the hand of Thai monarchy far exceeds the acceptable limit of a modern constitutional monarchy.

According to the NBTC, the episodes violate Article 37 of the 2008 Broadcasting Act, which prohibits dissemination of “content which leads to the overthrow of the constitutional monarchy system of government, or affects national security, public order and morality…”.

PPT had never considered “discussion” of the monarchy to be “taboo.” After all, there’s shelves of books on the monarchy, they are on television every single day, and there is endless “information” provided on the royal family and monarchy.

So we thought we should look up the word “discussion.” We found that it means “consideration of a question in open and usually informal debate.” The problem seems to with the word “open.” As we all know, the lese majeste law does not allow open consideration of the monarchy.

That confirmed, it still seems odd that the state-owned channel should be considered to have been promoting the “overthrow of the constitutional monarchy system of government…” or anything similar.

We understand that a herd of mad monarchists, fearing the sky was falling through (barely) open conversation, “protested at the Thai PBS headquarters” and demanded that the rest of the series be banned. (Of course, Thai PBS quickly capitulated.) But, then, these were quite deranged ultra-royalists.

Then we located our earlier post on this and saw this:

… Army boss General Prayuth Chan-ocha “has lashed out at the Tob Jote TV programme for broadcasting a debate over the role of the monarchy.” … He considers the “broadcast was inappropriate at a time of political conflict.” So the timing was wrong? Probably not. Prayuth doesn’t want any discussion of the role of the monarchy that goes outside the narrow boundaries of the official treacly narrative.

At least the bellicose general agrees that the media has “constitutional rights … to present a programme,” and is reported to have made the remarkable claim that “there are many other pressing problems to be tackled other than the role of the monarchy.”…

The then army boss, now dictator, stated the:

… programme was inappropriate. He said the monarchy is part of the country’s history and prestige and must be preserved. He said he has served the royal family himself and can testify that the institution provides happiness to the people…. The monarchy has been under the constitution since the 1932 revolution. Gen Prayuth said the only way the monarchy can be protected is by Section 112 of the Criminal Code, known as the lese majeste law…. He said this is not the right time to make changes to the lese majeste law.

The picture is thus clear: Prayuth is settling old scores and others are settling them for him as well. Settling them is a part of lese majeste repression. Madness on the monarchy continues to stifle debate, and even “discussion.” The military dictatorship prefers its “information.”








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