The military and police on Thursday evening detained four academics and three student activists for organizing and participating in a seminar about the end of dictatorial regimes in foreign countries after forcing the seminar to be stopped. They were released about 9.30pm.
The seminar was a part of the political seminar series “Democracy Classroom”, organized by League of Liberal Thammasat for Democracy (LLTD), a progressive Thammasat student group. The seminar featured four academics, Nidhi Eoseewong, Prajak Kongkirati, Chaowarit Chaowsangrat, Janjira Sombutpoonsiri. It was held at Thammasat University, Rangsit Campus.
After about 30 minutes into the seminar the police came in, detained all of them and brought them to Klong Luang police station.
“Today we have to close the classroom now, not because that I don’’t want to teach, but as long as we can not make the university the place where ideas can be exchanged, Thai society will have no future,” Prajak Kongkirati told the participants before leaving the ‘classroom.’
Prajak Kongkirati (left) and Nidhi Eoseewong (right) were interupted by the authorities during the seminar
Before the event was held, the military asked the university to force the students to cancel the event. The university then locked the room earlier assigned for the seminar. The students, however, continued with their plan and held the event at the hall on the first floor of a university building instead.
“Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha once told representatives of foreign businessmen that he is not a dictator,” posted Piyabutra Saengkanokkul, Thammasat law lecturer and member of the courageous Nitirat law academic group, on his Facebook account on Thursday evening. “The NCPO has never admit it is a dictator. Today’s seminar talks about dictators overseas. Why the army and authorities need to be so scared?”
This is not the first time that the military tried to stop a seminar at Thammasat. On 8 August, the Thai military 'asked for cooperation' from Thammasat to stop an academic seminar on the interim charter, held by the same group of student activists; however, the university and the event organizers defied the military.
Soldiers in front of Klong Luang Police Station, where the students were detained
A letter, signed by Col Noppadon Tawrit, Commander of the Kings Guard’s 1st Field Artillery Regiment, to the university rector, states “the seminar may affect the attempts to solve national conflict”, so the university should stop the event in order “to prevent the resurgence of differences in political attitude.”
Before the event started, there were negotiations between the event organizer, representatives of the university and the police. The resolution of the meeting was that the university would not stop the event and that the student group could hold the event at their own risk.
About a hundred of eager participants attended the seminar at a hall on the first floor of a building at Thammasat University, Rangsit Campus