Academics, students accused of violating junta’s ban on gatherings

The police have summoned academics and students accused of breaching the junta’s ban on political gatherings for participating in an academic forum.

Teeramon Buangam, a master’s student at Chiang Mai University and editor of Prachatham News, told the media that he received a summons from Changphueak Police Station in Chiang Mai on 12 August 2017.

According to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), the letter summons him to the police station on 15 August together with Chayan Vaddhanaphuti, Director of the Regional Centre for Social Science and Sustainable Development of Chiang Mai University, Chaipong Samnieng, a lecturer at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Pakawadee Weerapaspong, an independent writer and activist, and Nontawat Machai, an undergraduate student.

The original reporting date typed on the summons was 23 August, but this was crossed out and changed by pen to 15.  

The summon states that the five are accused of violating the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Head’s Order No. 3/2015, the junta’s ban on political gatherings of five or more persons.

It does not, however, specify what action constituted the violation, but merely states that it is related to their involvement in the 13th International Conference on Thai Studies in Chiang Mai in July.

Col Suebsakul Buarawong, Deputy Commander of the 33rd Military Circle of Chiang Mai, filed the complaint against them.

The police, however, allowed the five to report before 21 August after a lawyer from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights representing the five negotiated with the authorities.

Earlier, Puttipong Sirimart, Deputy Governor of Chiang Mai, submitted a letter to the Ministry of Interior to threaten Pakawadee and Chaipong after they held up placards reading, ‘an academic forum is not a military camp’, at the Thai Studies conference.

Pakawadee Weerapaspong (left) and Chaipong Samnieng (right) holding up placards reading ‘An academic forum - is not - a military camp’. (Photo from the Thai Academic Network for Civil Rights (TANCR))