People rally against military for ordering university to silence academics

Civil society and student activists have rallied at military bases in Bangkok and the southern province of Songkhla after the military recently asked a university to silence academics who oppose a coal-fired power plant. Southern civil society also accused the military of being biased in favour of investors.
 
The Commander of the 42nd Military Circle recently submitted a letter asking the President of Prince of Songkla University to ‘educate’ opponents of a controversial coal-fired power plant under construction in the southern province of Songkhla. An academic at the university, who opposes the power plant, claimed that the military actually want a total silencing, not just so-called ‘education’. (see full story)
 
In Bangkok, on Wednesday, 25 May 2016, the Young People for Social-Democracy Movement (YPD) submitted a statement condemning the military’s letter at the Office of the Commander of the Royal Thai Army.
 
 
YPD representatives submit the statement to the Office of the Commander Royal Thai Army (source: Banrasdr Photo)
 
The statement says that the military should not ask the university, which is a non-military institution, to comply with its request. The statement also condemns the military for having a conflict of interest in the matter of the power plant project.
 
“It is highly troubling that there is a conflict of interest involving the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) and Royal Thai Army since high ranking army officers currently serve on the executive board of EGAT,” reads the statement. 
 
YPD also urged the military to stop all kinds of suppression of academic freedom and community rights.
 
In a related development, Manager Online reported that on the same day, southern civil society groups marched to the 42nd Military Circle to submit a statement condemning the military for being biased in favour of investors. The groups also urged the military to stop intimidating academics and local people. 
 
 
 
Civil society groups march to the 42nd Military Circle in Hat Yai District, Songkhla Province  (source: Manager Online)
 
The statement says that apart from the letter to the university, the military has repeatedly intimidated local opponents of the power plant project in various ways. For instance, on 20 May, the military sent troops in a military Humvee to a village during prayer time. Moreover, it was obvious that the military was not neutral since on 16 February, the military hosted a public assembly supporting the power plant.
 
“Social conflict is being created because of the 42nd Military Circle’s obvious bias in favour of investors. The coal-fired power plant will become a threat to peace in Southern Thailand,” reads the statement.