On May 24, 2014, the newly installed National Peace and Order Maintaining Council issued an order requiring that some 35 scholars, writers and others report to military authorities or face possible arrest following the Thai military’s seizure of power and declaration of martial law. It is not clear as of this writing how many of those summoned are currently in custody.
Scholars at Risk understands that the scholars identified in the order include those whose work includes writing and speaking about issues of democratization and critical perspectives on Thailand’s lese majeste laws, which criminalize insulting the monarchy. These reportedly include Thammasat University lecturers Somsak Jeamteerasakul, Worachet Pakeerut and Sawatri Suksri; Thammasat University professor of criminology Sudsanguan Suthisorn; Chulalongkorn University communications scholar Suda Rangupan; philosopher Surapot Thaweesak; and Pavin Chachavalpongpun, currently a professor of Southeast Asian studies at Kyoto University in Japan. It is also reported that no charges have been filed against any of the scholars who have been ordered to appear.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about possible arbitrary detentions of scholars and others, apparently in retaliation for nonviolent expressive activity which is expressly protected under international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Scholars at Risk is also concerned about the targeting of scholars for harassment, intimidation, detention and/or prosecution because of the content of nonviolent academic writing and expression, which is a clear violation of academic freedom and threat to scholarship and quality higher education. State officials have a responsibility not to interfere with the right of free expression, so long as it is exercised peacefully and responsibly. Intimidation, detention or prosecution aimed at limiting free expression undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.