SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: June 03, 2017

Attack Types: Other


Region & Country:Southeastern Asia | Thailand

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On June 3, 2017, Thai soldiers reportedly threatened to detain Surapot Thaweesak, a prominent scholar of philosophy and religion, apparently in response to Facebook posts regarding government corruption.

On June 3, soldiers reportedly went to Professor Thaweesak’s home in Hua Hin District, of Prachuap Khiri Khan Province. As he was not home, the soldiers inquired with district officials and instructed them to pass on a warning specifically noting one of Professor Thaweesak’s Facebook posts in which he allegedly referred to the Thai government as a dictatorship. The note further indicates that if Professor Thaweesak refuses to discontinue posting such content, he will be detained and taken to Bangkok for “attitude readjustment.” 

In May 2014, Professor Thaweesak, along with 34 other scholars and writers, had been summoned by the Junta authorities following the military-led coup, apparently due to peaceful expression related to topics including democratization and Thailand’s lese-majeste law (see report).

Scholars at Risk is concerned about detention, or threats of detention, made against a scholar in apparent retaliation for the nonviolent exercise of the right to freedom of expression — conduct which is expressly protected under international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights, to which Thailand is a party. In addition to the harm to the immediate victim, such incidents have a chilling effect on academic freedom and undermine democratic society generally. State authorities have a responsibility to protect academic freedom, freedom of expression, freedom of association, and the right to due process.