News / Asia

Thailand's Junta Targets Outspoken Academics and Activists

  • A protester displays how his rights were violated during an anti-coup demonstration at the Victory Monument, in Bangkok, May 28, 2014.
  • A Thai riot police officer (center), is carried by colleagues after he was knocked down by an object thrown by protesters during an anti-coup demonstration at the Victory Monument, in Bangkok, May 28, 2014.
  • Protesters scuffle with Thai soldiers during an anti-coup demonstration at the Victory Monument, in Bangkok, May 28, 2014.
  • About 200 people confronted troops and police during a rally at Victory Monument, in Bangkok, May 28, 2014.
  • Anti-coup protesters push police during a rally at the Victory Monument, in Bangkok, May 27, 2014.
  • Military police stand guard during an anti-coup demonstration at the Victory Monument in Bangkok, May 27, 2014.
  • A demonstrator holds up a sign during a protest against military rule at the Victory Monument in Bangkok, May 27, 2014.
  • Thai soldiers secure a road near the Victory Monument in Bangkok, May 26, 2014.
  • An anti-coup protester holds a banner in front of soldiers during a demonstration at the Victory Monument in Bangkok, May 26, 2014.
  • Anti-coup protestors jeer at riot police during a rally against military rule at the Victory Monument in Bangkok, May 26, 2014.
  • Police officers and soldiers stand guard during a protest against military rule at Victory Monument in central Bangkok, May 26, 2014.
  • General Prayuth Chan-ocha speaks at the start of his first press conference since Thursday's coup, Bangkok, May 26, 2014.
Images from Thailand
Gabrielle Paluch
Thailand's junta has summoned and detained activists and academics in the week it assumed power in a coup. The military says it is carrying out a reform agenda aimed at solving the country's more than six month long political impasse.  

Since Thailand's new military junta, the National Peace and Order Maintaining Council, seized power, anti-coup protesters have been gathering by the hundreds in Bangkok, at impromptu events organized by text message and social networking apps.

Troops have been sent to confront protesters and clear the streets, and on occasion have arrested demonstrators for defying the ban on such rallies. The junta also has summoned members of the ousted government, activists and academics, detaining many of them indefinitely at an undisclosed location.

Most have obeyed the orders and reported to military offices. But a few, such as pro-government "Red-Shirt" activist Sombat Boonngamanong, rejected the instructions.

Instead, Sombat said authorities could find him at a Bangkok McDonald's, where a flash mob of protesters wearing masks bearing the image of his face had gathered. Chatuporn was one member of the masked mob who said the group's tactics come after many of their political leaders have been rounded up.  

"Because Sombat make a game for everyone if you want to catch him just go ahead catch him everywhere," said Chatuporn. "We are everywhere even flash mob or something like that. That's why they want to catch all the leaders they got our prime minister and put them somewhere we don't know but Sombat he is the one who got away."

In addition to Sombat, the military has summoned and detained journalists and academics, as well as political leaders opposing the coup.

Coup leader and army chief general Prayuth Chan-ocha says he hopes military rule will bring an end to Thailand's protracted political crisis, which saw the democratically elected government and the opposition unable to reach a compromise, and resulted in months of demonstrations that paralyzed the capital.

Deputy army spokesperson Weerachon Sukhondhapatipak says the army will relinquish administrative control over the country once it has solved its problems.

"Security and peace and order. Peace and order, people in the country become harmony and it has to be sustainable peace and order not just temporarily and after that we will proceed further with talking about election," said Weerachon. "But for the time being we have to fix all the problems of this country particularly with the fundamental problems."

The spokesperson promised detained political leaders would be released once order had returned to the streets, but did not specify what would happen to other detainees.

Pavin Chachavalpongpun is political analyst and former diplomat among those summoned by the junta. But he says he did not respond because he does not recognize the legitimacy of the coup. He says the summons are a breach against academic freedom and an attempt at intimidation.

"This is the 19th military coup, the fact that they started [to] harass academics this is something quite new the first thing to do is for them to try to control what kind of message that many people would be sending across," he said. "I think academic could pose as a potential threat to the power position of the coup-makers."

He believes the process of summoning outspoken people with the looming threat of future prosecution under martial law or the lese majeste law undermines the legitimacy of the coup. Pavin says it will only encourage critics of the military regime.

You May Like

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Yearsi
X
December 18, 2014 5:13 PM
Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Years

Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid