Celebrated Thai historian called in for questioning by the new military government

Historians in the News
tags: Thailand

At 5.30 pm on 17 September 2014, police and soldiers interrupted a lecture on the topic of “Democracy Classroom #2: The Decline of Dictatorship in Other Countries” at Thammasat University in Bangkok. The officials went up to Professor Nidhi Eoseewong, the noted historian and public intellectual who was speaking, and told him to stop and come with them. Three additional scholars (Prajak Kongkirati, Janjira Sombutpoonsiri, and Chaowarit Chaowsangrat) and three student activists from the League of Liberal Thammasat for Democracy (LLTD), which had organized the event, were also arrested. They were taken to a local police station and interrogated for several hours. At no time were they allowed to speak with lawyers, as the police and military authorities asserted that they were not being charged with any crimes, but were there for the purpose of “creating understanding.” They were released at 9.30 pm that evening. By not charging the seven individuals with the violation of any laws or orders, the authorities can claim that this was not an arrest, but was rather a discussion to “create understanding,” as they have in cases of arbitrary detention following the coup. To be clear: the lack of formal charges does not change the meaning of this incident as a form of intimidation, violation of the rights of the seven individuals to freedom of thought and speech, and part of the ongoing creation and maintenance of a climate of fear in Thailand....

Read entire article at Asia-Pacific Journal (Japan Focus)

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