Academics, activists condemn junta’s arrest of student activists, urge lifting of martial law

More than 100 academics, activists, and others on Thursday announced in a joint statement, “Down with martial law… power belongs to all the people.” 
 
Some of the signatories of the statement are renowned academics, such as Prajak Kongkirati, a well-known political scientist from Thammasat University, Prapas Pintobtang, Puangthong Pawakapan, and Pratubjit Neelapaijit.  
 
According to the statement, the group condemns the arrest of five students in Khon Kaen who flashed 3-fingered salutes and wore ‘No coup’ t-shirts to welcome the junta’s leader to the province and calls for the end of martial law in order to return power to all the people.
 
Down with martial law … Power belongs to all the people
(Translated by Prachatai)
 
The coup d’état on 22 May 2014 staged by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has severely affected the basic human rights and freedoms of the people, especially when people are arrested and detained for expressing political discontent against the coup d’état. The suspension of the rights and freedoms of people, who the NCPO allege belong to the opposite end of the political spectrum, has resulted in about 600 people being ordered to report to the NCPO and 200 arrested. Within these numbers are academics, members of the press, activists, and ordinary people. Moreover, 33 activities and seminars have been obstructed by the military, resulting in an environment of fear and suppression, where people are restrained from expressing ideas freely.
 
Furthermore, martial law [imposed since the coup d’état] has been used to evict poor people from farmlands (while investors were allowed to settle in protected areas), such as the eviction of villagers in Ban Noen Din Daeng of Buriram Province, Khon San villagers in Chaiyaphum, Klong Sai Pattana villagers in Surat Thani and many other communities throughout the country. Moreover, activists campaigning for national energy reform have been arrested. People from 12 northeastern organizations who signed a statement against the reform agenda of the coup-makers were detained. Villagers and academics campaigning against the NCPO’s forestry policy were arrested. In addition, the media has been intimidated and threatened to prevent information against the NCPO being made public. A cultural activity with a talk show on the land issue was banned. The freedom of expression of students from Kasetsart University who rallied against the construction of Mae Wong Dam was suspended. All these problems, which concern people’s livelihoods, cannot be solved without the participation of the people who will be affected by the outcomes.
 
Recently, five student activists from Khon Kaen University were arrested in Khon Kaen on 19 November 2014 for expressing an anti-coup message in front of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and his ministers who assumed power after the coup d’état, although the group has been working to assist villagers in Thailand’s Northeast for many years.
 
In summary, as academics, writers, activists, and representatives from different organizations who have signed this open letter, we would like to request the following:
  1. The martial law should be lifted as soon as possible to guarantee the people’s freedoms and rights in solving social-political problems.
  2. Power belongs to all the people and we do not accept power from those who have stolen it from the people.
  3. We stand with student activists from Khon Kaen University and people who have been affected by the NCPO’s policies. We do not accept the use of martial law to press charges against students and others.