One day following Thailand’s 12th military coup since the end of the absolute monarchy in 1932, 26 scholars of Thai Studies from outside the country, wrote a letter to General Prayuth Chan-ocha, expressing their concern at the coup launched by the National Order Maintenance Council (NOMC). The scholars noted that each coup has “failed to achieve its objectives while it has damaged the development of the rule of law, democracy, and human rights.”
The scholars, who are from 20 institutions in 8 countries, believe that given the restrictions placed on freedom of expression inside the country, it is important for those outside the country to speak out against the coup.
The scholars are critical of the NOMC’s claim that they have carried out a coup for the well-being of the country and note that, “The coup cannot be a measure for peace because the coup itself is the use of violence.”
The scholars call on their NOMC to immediately return to constitutional rule and “to assure that no further violence or suppression in any form will be used against the people.” The scholars conclude by stating that, “Constitutional rule by a civilian government, including both elections and the full participation of all citizens in rule, is the only path forward for the continued development of democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Thailand.
23 May 2014
General Prayuth Chan-ocha
Commander-in-Chief, Royal Thai Army
Dear General Prayuth:
As scholars of Thailand based outside the country, we are writing to express our grave concern at the coup launched on 22 May 2014 by the National Order Maintenance Council. This is the twelfth coup successfully carried out in Thailand since the end of the absolute monarchy on 24 June 1932. In every instance, it failed to achieve its objectives while it has damaged the development of the rule of law, democracy, and human rights. Citizens, particularly those with dissident views, have been placed in danger and political freedom has been curtailed.
In the National Order Maintenance Council’s first statement, you requested that citizens “carry out their lives and occupation as usual,” but nothing could be normal about the political and social conditions put in place by the coup. The coup cannot be a measure for peace because the coup itself is the use of violence. During the two days from 20 to 22 May 2014 in which martial law was in force, there was curtailment of human rights, particularly with respect to freedom of expression and political freedom. The situation has been worse since the coup, with extensive fear and unknown safety of many leaders and supporters of all political camps. The rapid speed and severity with which these restrictions were put in place makes Thailand notorious worldwide for the unjust actions by the coup group. The international community cannot tolerate such actions.
We urge the National Order Maintenance Council to immediately return to constitutional rule by a civilian government. In the absence of such an action, we call on the Council to provide a concrete timeline for return to constitutional rule, which should be done as rapidly as possible. We further call on the National Order Maintenance Council to assure that no further violence or suppression in any form will be used against the people. Constitutional rule by a civilian government, including both elections and the full participation of all citizens in rule, is the only path forward for the continued development of democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Thailand.
1. Dr. Andrew Brown, Lecturer, University of New England
2. Dr. Pongpisoot Busbarat, Research Affiliate, University of Sydney
3. Dr. Pavin Chachavalpongpun, Associate Professor, Kyoto University
4. Dr. Nick Cheesman, Lecturer, Australian National University
5. Dr. Michael Connors, Associate Professor, University of Nottingham, Malaysia campus
6. Dr. Eli Elinoff, Postdoctoral Fellow, National University of Singapore
7. Dr. Jane M, Ferguson, Research Fellow, University of Sydney
8. Dr. Jim Glassman, Associate Professor, University of British Columbia
9. Dr. Tyrell Haberkorn, Fellow, Australian National University
10. Dr. Kevin Hewison, Sir Walter Murdoch Professor, Murdoch University
11. Dr. Philip Hirsch, Professor, University of Sydney
12. Dr. Adadol Ingawanij, Senior Research Fellow, University of Westminster
13. Dr. Soren Ivarsson, Assistant Professor, University of Copenhagen
14. Dr. Peter Jackson, Professor, Australian National University
15. Dr. Andrew Johnson, Assistant Professor, Yale-NUS College
16. Dr. Samson Lim, Singapore University of Technology and Design
17. Dr. Tamara Loos, Associate Professor, Cornell University
18. Dr. Mary Beth Mills, Professor, Colby College
19. Dr. Michael Montesano, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies
20. Dr. Claudio Sopranzetti, Postdoctoral Fellow, Oxford University
21. Dr. Ben Tausig, Associate Professor, Stony Brook University
22. Dr. James L. Taylor, Adjunct Associate Professor, The University of Adelaide,
23. Dr. Tubtim Tubtim, University of Sydney
24. Dr. Peter Vandergeest, Associate Professor, York University
25. Dr. Andrew Walker, Professor and Deputy Dean, Australian National University
26. Dr. Thongchai Winichakul, Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison