Scholars, writers, and citizens from around the world support the Thai 14
Scholars, writers, and citizens from around the world have sent messages of support to the fourteen students arrested in Bangkok on 26 June 2015. Organized under the ad hoc name of International Solidarity for Thai Students and Teachers, over sixty people called for the immediate release and dropping of all charges against Chatupat Boonyapatraksa, Apiwat Suntararak, Payu Boonsopon, Panupong Srithananuwat, Suvicha Tipangkorn, Supachai Pukrongploy, Wasant Satesit, Rattapol Supasupon, Rangsiman Rome, Songtham Kaewpanpruk, Chonthicha Jaengraew, Rattapol Supasophon, Apisit Sapnapapha, Pakorn Areekul, and Pornchai Yuanyee. Although the Bangkok Military Court ruled against further detention of the students on the morning of 7 July 2015, and they are expected to be released on the morning of 8 July 2015, the case against them remains.
The scholars, writers, and citizens wrote individual letters, took photographs, wrote poems, shared poems by others, drew pictures, and sent short messages of support. The messages of their cultural political interventions included the expression of solidarity, the linking of the Thai struggle for democracy to other struggles globally, and the enduring power of liberty, dignity, and freedom.
A number of people wrote individual letters in support of the students. For example, Ariel Dorfman, noted thinker and writer who was forced to flee Chile when General Pinochet launched a coup against democratically-elected Salvador Allende in 1973, came to power, called on the government to cease its persecution of the students:
“As someone who has himself suffered repression in Latin America and witnessed it around the world, I urge the government to stop persecuting the fourteen students who want nothing more than the human rights and democracy which are part of the heritage of the whole Thai people.
I write not only as a human rights activist, a distinguished professor at Duke University and a writer, but as someone who has established in the past, through my work, a relationship with Thailand. My play, Death and the Maiden, has been staged there – and an award winning film, Prisoners in Time, starring John Hurt, was filmed there, after I spent a compelling week in Thailand, interviewing people and scouting locations, discovering the deep gentleness and profound wisdom of so many citizens who are now subjected to the worst sort of harassment. If teachers and students are not free to express themselves, to think and act upon their thoughts, the future for Thailand will be bleak.”
Larry Lohmann, from The Corner House (UK), spoke out against the arrest of the 14 and its broader context:
As someone who considers himself a longtime friend of Thailand, and as a former university lecturer at Sri Nakharinwirot University, I am writing in solidarity with the 14 students arrested on 26 June.
I consider their arrest -- and the continuing harassment and imprisonment of many other students, teachers and ordinary people across Thailand who are simply trying to open a fruitful discussion about the country's future -- to be an offense against the right of all to free expression.
The Corner House
Professor Juliet B. Schor wrote in solidarity:
“To whom it may concern:
I write to express my solidarity with the fourteen students who have been arrested on June 26 2015 for peaceful protest. The right to express oneself and to express opinions about one's society and government is a fundamental human right that all people deserve. Without it a healthy society cannot exist. I call upon the government to release these students so they can return to their rightful role--studying and learning and contributing to their country via that role.
Please release these students.
Professor Juliet B. Schor”
Ken MacLean called for the release of the students:
I write to express my concern regarding the recent arrest of students for engaging in activities that promote the following five principles: democracy, human rights, justice, public participation, and non-violence. The civil and political liberties enshrined in international human rights covenants, which the Royal Thai Government has acceded, protects these rights. Peaceful protests that adhere to the five-point platform pose no threat to the security of the nation. Indeed, the exercise of these rights will enhance the security of the nation. The authorities should enable freedom of expression, the free exchange of ideas, and debate about the country's future. I urge the authorities to release the students for this reason.
Ken MacLean, Ph.D.”
Nancy Eberhardt called for the release of the students as a scholar and mother:
“Statement in support of the 14 Thai students who are being detained:
Over the past few weeks, I have watched in disbelief as these young Thai citizens have been treated so callously by their government. These students, who were threatening no one and were simply stating their own convictions, represent the best hope for the future of Thailand.
As a professor who mentors students and cares about their development, as a researcher who has made a lifetime commitment to Thai studies, and as a mother of someone the same age as those who are being detained, it breaks my heart to see these events unfolding in Thailand. Joining with many others who are watching and who will hold Thailand responsible for what happens to these students, I urge the authorities to reconsider their path and release the students immediately.
Professor and Chair Department of Anthropology and Sociology
Knox College, U.S.A.”
Professor Danielle Celermajer from the University of Sydney wrote to the students as fellow citizens of the world:
“Dear students and fellow citizens of a peaceful world
Your willingness to stand up for the right to participate in your country’s governance and the right to express your views is testament to your courage, your commitment to your fellow citizens and to your country.
We only learn what is true and what is best when we can all speak and listen to each other, and not when some can decide who can speak and who cannot. This is a universal truth.
Please know that you are not alone. Academics all over the world and I am sure so many of your country people are with you and holding you in their minds and hearts.
Professor Danielle Celermajer
University of Sydney”
Professor Nyiri Pál from the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam linked the struggle and repression of the students in Thailand to earlier ones:
When I was little I knew some Soviet dissidents, like Yuri Orlov, the founder of the International Helsinki Federation. Little did I imagine that a quarter century after the collapse of the Soviet Union there would be another turn toward repression around the globe. China, Russia, Hungary, Turkey, Egypt, Thailand, and in some ways the United States as well -- to name a few.
We are living in bad times, but this does not mean we should acquiesce.
Please let me know if there is anything I can do.
Professor of Global History from an Anthropological Perspective
Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam”
Other scholars, writers, and citizens wrote poems and created art pieces in support of the students. Michelle Tan, from the Faculty of Political Science at Thammasat University, wrote:
“What will it take to prove to you, who rule at the barrel of a gun, that we...
are not slaves of Thaksin
are not living in a "beautiful world'
are not slaves of Caucasian white-skinned foreigners
are not evil capitalists
are fighting for a stable, peaceful future
which requires the rule of law, not the rule of any individual
are trying to allow for free expression
which will help prevent the pent-up frustration that leads to radicalisation and violence
are willing to listen to you and everyone in this country
are advocating a stable system of checks and balances
are fighting against corruption, regardless of who commits it
are all human???
If there is no "third side", no neutral space free of double standards, then there is no hope.”
Charissa, from Harvard College, offered this poem in solidarity:
“Dark Thai Tea
14 voices cry for an account
Where are our disappeared
Your graves are not big enough to hold their resistance
To bury their bravery
So they are here
Marching with us
An army of unstoppable feet and unsilenced tongues
14 hearts beat for justice
For a future fairer than tyranny
Richer than the oppression
That gleams from your guns
A peace that makes your prisons
Collapse on the weight of their emptiness
A freedom that stretches to infinity
Like the Mekong
Like all the words in all of your banned books
14 mouths have tasted the
And found it wanting
Wanting something sweeter.”
Tessa Morris-Suzuki, professor at the Australian National University, maintained that “Free speech is a human right. Dissent is not a crime.”
May Adadol Ingawanij, teacher, University of Westminster, offered the message that, “You’ll never walk alone,” as well as this short clip:
Chris Baker asks, “Who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel?”
Samson Lim, from the Singapore University of Technology and Design, sent a message of solidarity and respect as the father of a young son:
Andrew Alan Johnson from Yale-NUS College wrote in support with the message that “Democracy is not a crime”:
Karin from Sweden wrote in praise of dissent:
John Francis Lee created a visual message of support for the 14 students:
A friend from Hong Kong sent in a visual message of support:
Mingkwan Garcia from France sent in a bilingual message of liberation:
Several people sent the poems of others to share with the students.
Eugénie Merieau sent Paul Eluard’s “Liberty”:
Tyrell Haberkorn from the Australian National University shared part of Adrienne Rich’s poem, “Integrity”:
Students, faculty, and journalists also sent in post-it actions, inspired by the post-it actions in Bangkok. The students of Akita International University in Japan created a series of post-its in support of the students:
Aim Sinpeng from the University of Sydney wrote with a clear and sharp message:
Taylor Easum, Assistant Professor of History from the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point, shared this message of support:
Alessio Fratticcioli, PhD student at Monash University offered a clear message:
Arnaud Dubus, independent journalist, called for the release of the students:
Dr. Lee Jones from the University of London wrote in support of liberty:
Angela Chiu in London called for justice, tolerance and compassion:
Sudarat Musikawong from Siena College offered a clarion message of solidarity:
Others took photographs of themselves holding their messages, such as Emily Donald, student at the University of Queensland:
The messages came in multiple languages, including an English-Bosnian-Russian message from linguist Wayles Browne, who insisted on the urgency of listening to students, rather than locking them up:
Many others offered their support, respect and solidarity with the students.
Professor Craig J. Reynolds, retired from the Australian National University, wrote in support of the fourteen and noted:
“These young people, who have chosen to challenge the injustices of Thai military rule, deserve my support. I have great respect for their courage and moral stand.”
Ajarn Ben Tausig from Stony Brook University, stands with the students and said:
“I stand with the fourteen brave students who have spoken out against an unjust government. I will follow the trial closely, and will do my best to help people understand what is happening.”
Charles Keyes, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology and International Studies, University of Washington, addressed the government directly and noted:
“As a scholar who has spent most of his professional life carrying out research about and teaching in Thailand I find it deeply disturbing that students seeking to exercise rights of free speech as recognized by almost all countries as well as human rights organizations should have been arrested and interned. This action makes Thailand even more alienated from the free world. I urge that the Thai government to give amnesty to the students.”
Arif Dirlik, a retired professor in Eugene, Oregon, wrote:
“Democracy, human rights, justice, public participation, and non-violence are among the most cherished achievements of modernity everywhere, and anyone devoted to their defense should be rewarded, not punished. For intellectuals, the defense of these rights is not a luxury but part of their duty to the society that invests in them. The arrest and incarceration of the students in Thailand for their defense of freedom and free speech is a transgression against contemporary civilized life, and should be rectified at once if Thai leaders desire recognition as reformers rather than oppressors of their own people. The whole world is watching.”
Jetta, a Thammasat University alum, wrote:
“Dear Rangsiman, Wason, Songtham, Phayu, Apiwat, Rattapon, Supachai , Abhisit, Panupong, Suwicha, Pakorn, Jatupat, Pornchai, Chonticha,
“Courage and honor to him who's jailed,
Our hearts shall cheer him and cry "All Hail!"
Our hands shall help to win the fight---
We're ready to fight,
"We're Ready" A song from I.W.W. (Industrial Workers of the World)
"When a man is denied the right to live the life he believes in, he has no choice but to become an outlaw." Quote from Nelson Mandela
Jetta (Thammasat University Alumni)”
Raymond Scupin, the Director of the Center for International and Global Studies at Lindenwood University, wrote with this message about the impacts of repression:
“Up until recently, Thailand was perceived throughout the world as the most important exemplar and model of a developing country. The country managed to develop a political economy that was based on a democratic process, rapid economic development, and freedom of the media while at the same time maintaining its religious traditions. However, since the time of the last coup the drift toward an authoritarian regime has undermined the international reputation of Thailand. The Thai regime has deliberately constructed a delusional and paranoid fantasy regarding a so-called conspiracy viewed as a threat to its political legitimacy. These delusions have led to the recent arrest of these Thai students who were calling for more democracy and human rights. This outright political repression of the media and the disdain for legal and democratic processes needs to be condemned by the international community. The international community needs to be mobilized for political action and possible sanctions against the Thai regime and its authoritarian policies so that Thailand can once again be a model for developing democratic principles and an enterprising political economy.”
Robert Dayley, Professor in the Department of Political Economy at the College of Idaho, sent this message for the 14 students:
“‘If you have enough inner resources, then you can live in isolation for long periods of time and not feel diminished by it’ – Aung San Suu Kyi. Stay strong my friends! Your dignity will sustain you!”
Jeremy Starn from Boston wrote in support of the students and democracy:
“True democracy will prevail whether dictators such as General Prayuth stand in its way or not. By not releasing the 14 students that are being held the current Thai government will only dig itself deeper into its own pit of utter despair but it will not heed the uprising of the people. The junta must peacefully give the people back their voice and stop their egregious destruction of human rights OR inevitably lose their fight for power. Either way the people WILL have their right to be heard. The choice right now is in the junta's hands; but it won't be for long. Release the students, repeal the new constitution and restore the power to the people.”
Many others sent in short messages of support:
“Respect to 14 brave democrats in vital struggle” – Garry Rodan, Professor of Politics & International Studies, Asia Research Centre, Murdoch University, Australia
“I stand in support of any student who criticizes any regime in the name of democracy, justice, and human rights. Dissent is not a crime.” -- Thomas Pepinsky,
“The free and open expression of ideas should not be feared, but embraced; it is the bedrock of any society's future.” -- Katherine A. Bowie, Professor of Anthropology, University of Wisconsin-Madison
“Your attitudes don’t need adjusting. You’ve done nothing wrong – in fact, you’ve done something glorious. The self-appointed enforcers of happiness are running scared backwards into history.” -- John Roosa, Associate Professor of History,
U. of British Columbia
“‘In order for evil to flourish, all that is required is for good men to do nothing.’ Edward Burke; In solidarity.” -- Allen Hicken
“‘In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies...but the silence of our friends’ ขอส่งกำลังใจให้เพื่อนๆ 14 คน เราจะร่วมต่อสู้ไปด้วยกัน” -- มาร์ค เจนมานะ นักศึกษา คณะเศรษฐศาสตร์
“In solidarity with the students!” -- Kevin Hewison, Sir Walter Murdoch Professor of Politics and International Studies, Murdoch University
“I want to tell my support to the fulfillment of all the Human Rights for all mankind. Arresting peaceful students is not acceptable, even from a martial government.” -- Jean Montané, France
“Dissent is not a Crime, Coup is. Free 14 Students.” -- Pavin Chachavalpongpun,
Associate Professor, Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University
“In support of those working for a better, more open, Thailand.” -- Michael Montesano, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore
“Courage à vous qui représentez l'avenir de la Thaïlande, l'avenir tout court, face aux dinosaures que sont les militaires sans cervelle. Vous êtes l'objet d'admiration du monde entier. Restez libres dans votre jugement et vos actes, votre emprisonnement est la honte du régime.” -- Jean-philippe jeannerot, enseignant, France
“A protest with a smile is the best sign of democracy and a healthy society. Before you were arrested we could all smile back. I hope you all are free soon, and that it will not be a crime to ask that society respect the wishes, dreams, and humour of its own people.” -- เลฟ จอนสัน Hjorleifur Jonsson, Associate Professor of Anthropology, School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University
“Free all political prisoners in Thailand! ‘Resolve to serve no more, and you are at once freed. I do not ask that you place hands upon the tyrant to topple him over, but simply that you support him no longer; then you will behold him, like a great Colossus whose pedestal has been pulled away, fall of his own weight and break in pieces.’ (Étienne de la Boétie)” -- Dr Tomas Larsson, University of Cambridge
“Disagreement is the lifeblood of democracy! Fight on! ความไม่เห็นด้วยคือชีวิตจิตใจของประชาธิปไตย สู้ สู้” -- Eli Elinoff, PhD., National University of Singapore
“Your freedom is my freedom.” -- J. Sakulwattana, Student, SOAS University of London
“I’m standing with you in peace, against oppression.” -- Dr Sarah Milne
“เพราะเพียงแค่14คน คนทั่วโลกกำลังลุกขึ้นสู้ เป็นกำลังใจให้นะคะ” -- ผลเมืองคนหนึ่ง (เชียงใหม่)
“I write in support of the 14 students arrested in Thailand on June 26th. I believe this to be an act of unwarranted suppression of their rights to peaceful protest. They should be released immediately.” -- concerned professor
“This is a note of solidarity with the 14 Thai students arrested for remembering the students detained a year ago by the military junta. Freedom of expression is crucial to all countries. The students are remembering oppression and rejecting it, with is a crucial element of any democracy.” -- Dr Joyce Canaan, Professor of Sociology, Birmingham City University, Birmingham, England
“We stand with you and hope the government release the students immediately and sincerely listen to their demands — and realize the legitimacy in their demand and make Thailand more just and democratic than before. In solidarity.” -- Jooyea Lee from Seoul
“May your voices be strong and their resolve weakened. Tell your government we are watching their every step.” -- Oliver @Yangon, ARTICLE 19: Global campaign for freedom of expression
“Dear students and teachers, I admire your courage in exercising your right to protest against military dictatorship. I believe that you are in the right direction in your democratic aspiration for your country. Continue your dream...” – Delfo
“REPRESSION LEADS TO DISSENT, DIVISION AND ENMITY THAT WILL LAST FOR DECADES. IS THIS TO BE LEGACY OF THE JUNTA?
RETURN HAPPINESS TO THE THAI PEOPLE: FREE THE THAI FOURTEEN.” -- Aussie friend
“Telling the truth and dissenting from injustice and an oppressive non-elected imposed form of rule is courageous and admirable. You are a ray of hope and example of freedom to all in Thailand. Bravo.” -- Dr Diogenes
“Free the 14! Dissent is not a crime, and the military junta is not legitimate. They have done nothing wrong and should not be imprisoned. The military court must release them immediately.” -- Dr. Donald Johnson, Psychology Coordinator, Webster University of Thailand
“I stand with Thai students for the right of free expression.” -- Professor Katharine Bjork, St. Paul, USA
“Civil rights are the foundation of a strong, progressive society. Political injustice ruins Thais domestically and globally. #FreeThai14 NOW.” -- Dr. Chanson
“I’m supporting 14 Thai students. Release them immediately!” – Anonymous
“Release the 14 students immediately!” -- A Sydney Thai