The scholars had been attending an event entitled Democracy Classroom: Fall of Foreign Dictator at Bangkok’s Thammasat University on Thursday when the military brought it to a halt.
Martial law is now in place in Thailand, after the military – the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) – came to power on 22 May, which made it illegal to criticise the coup and also blocked some websites.
According to Human Rights Watch, the authorities had previously ordered the group to suspend the seminar for fear that it could “affect the attempts to solve conflicts in the country”.
In the demand, Colonel Noppadon Tawrit, Commander of the Kings Guard’s 1st Field Artillery Regiment, called for its cancellation in order “to prevent the resurgence of differences in political attitude”.
After they staged the discussion regardless, academics Nidhi Eoseewong, Prajak Kongkirati, Chaowarit Chaowsangrat, and Janjira Sombutpoonsiri, alongside students Worrawut Wongsamart, Rattapon Supasopon, and Sorrawit Serivivat, were reportedly held and interrogated for a number of hours at a police station. They were later released without charge.
“While telling the world that they are not dictators, the Thai military authorities are extending their grip into universities and banning discussions about democracy and human rights,” Brad Adams, Asia Director at Human Rights Watch, said.
Source: De Peet Journal