Military harassing family of exiled anti-junta academic

A well-known anti-junta academic currently in self-imposed exile has reported that the Thai junta has sent military officers to harass his family in Thailand.

Pavin Chachavalpongpun, a fierce critic of the Thai junta, who is an Associate Professor at the Centre for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University, Japan, posted on his Facebook status yesterday, 24 February 2016, that four military officers were sent to his family home in Bangkok.

“The military sent 4 officers to my house. This is not the first visit. On top of that the military called my sister at her office threatening her that if she could not make me stop talking about the monarchy, my family will have to pay for it since we are in the same family. So, the military is holding my family hostage. The military also suggested that if I stop talking, it will stop harassing my family,” Pavin posted on Facebook.

As a columnist of the Diplomat, Pavin published an article on the news website today, saying that army officers visited his family twice last year.

He added in the article that families of other anti-junta academics who are also in self-imposed exile, such as Somsak Jeamteerasakul and Suda Rangkuphan, are suffering the same fate.

In November 2015, Pavin reported that prior to a lecture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Thai Consulate in Chicago tried to bar Thai students, especially those who are studying in the US on the Thai government scholarships, from attending his lecture.  

“The preparation of my lecture at Madison was quite problematic. The Thai Consulate in Chicago acted fully as an agent of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), warning Thai students, especially those on Thai government scholarships, not to attend my lecture,” wrote Pavin on his Facebook profile.

He added that the Consulate requested a list of students who planned to attend the lecture and asked if they could report back to them.

Earlier in July 2015, Pavin reported that a Thai Consulate in Germany threatened to withdraw donations to a German university in Frankfurt for inviting him to talk about Thai politics.

The staff of Goethe University of Frankfurt told him then that the Thai Consulate in Frankfurt had asked the university to cancel the lecture, threatening to withdraw funding to the university if the lecture was to go ahead.

After a heated exchange with the organisers, however, Pavin contacted a group of students at Goethe University who still wanted to participate in the lecture and he was able to give the lecture in defiance of the organisers’ policy.

Pavin is currently residing in the UK as a visiting Scholar at St John’s College, University of Cambridge.