Anti-junta academics remain defiant despite risk of imprisonment

One step closer to being tried by a Military Court, two embattled anti-junta academics stand firm, saying they only exercised the rights they are entitled to.

Thai police on Thursday morning, 2 June 2016, submitted a case file on accusations against Attachak Sattayanurak and Somchai Preechasinlapakun, history and law lecturers from Chiang Mai University in northern Thailand, to the staff of the of the Military Judge Advocate General's Office, BBC Thai reported.

The two are among six lecturers charged under the junta’s National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Order No. 3/2015, an order banning political gatherings of five or more persons, for participating in the reading of a statement ‘Universities are not Military Barracks’ on 31 October 2015, calling for academic freedom.

Unlike four other academics, the two refused to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the military promising to steer clear from any political activity in the future, maintaining that they did what they should do as academics in reading the statement.

“What’s worrisome is that if people in our position [as academics] get prosecuted, it might be even worse for others. We are worried of course, but what’s more worrying is the freedom and liberties which we are fighting for,” said Somchai.

Attachak maintains that they both will fight the case to the end, adding that people in society will judge who is right or wrong.

The prosecutor of the Military Court will decide whether the two will be indicted on 6 July 2016.

If found guilty of violating the junta’s political gathering ban, the two could face up to one year in prison, a 20,000 baht fine, or both.

Attachak Sattayanurak (left) and Somchai Preechasinlapakun (right) (courtesy of BBC Thai)