Thai military bans seminar on controversial historical figure

Thai Military and police officers stormed into a seminar about a Thai historical figure and forced the organisers to cancel the event, saying that it might be illegal under the volatile political situation.

According to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), many police and military officers in plainclothes on Sunday, 6 September 2015, came to Santhi Prachatham Library of Satienkoset-Nakaprateep Foundation in central Bangkok and forced a seminar about the life of Narin Phasit, 1874-1950, to be aborted.

The seminar titled “The Life of Narin: A Perverse Man” was aborted at the officers’ request, who reasoned that the seminar might go against the order of the junta’s National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) under the current volatile political situation.

The officers mentioned that such seminars have to be pre-approved by the authorities concerned first.

Narin Phasit is a historical figure whose biography has been made into several books. However, he is a little-known figure in the mainstream Thai historical narrative. During the reign of the absolute monarchy under Rama VII, Narin insisted that the government officials should be held accountable and spoke against the rise of the military.

Against the norms, he also tried to revive the Bhikkhuni Tradition, ordination of female monks, in Thailand then Siam and called for the abolition of the death penalty.

According to the organisers, on 5 September, a day before the scheduled discussion, the police sent a letter to the foundation and requested the organisers to inform them in details about the content, expected participants, and speakers of the seminar. 

On the same day, after the organisers answered the inquiry, the police asked the organisers to cancel and postpone the event. However, the organisers went ahead with the scheduled event until the officers on Sunday came to the seminar and demanded it to be aborted.

The organisers said that they did not request for permission to hold the event since the beginning because it is obviously not related to politics.

The book about Narin has also been written in English by Peter Koret. The title of the book is ‘The Man Who Accused the King of Killing a Fish: The Biography of Narin Phasit of Siam, 1874-1950.’  

Military and police officers in plainclothes among the participants and organisers of the seminar about Natin Phasit on 6 September 2015

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