Self-exiled academic Somsak Jeam appeals against university’s decision to fire him

Somsak Jeamteerasakul, an embattled lèse majesté critic and ex-Thammasat history lecturer in self-imposed exile has submitted an appeal to the Thai authorities regarding the decision by Thammasat University to sack him. 

Somsak Jeamteerasakul, 56, formerly a lecturer at the Faculty of Liberal Arts at Thammasat University where he had been teaching for over 20 years, posted on his Facebook profile on Monday that he has submitted an appeal to the Office of the Higher Education Commission (OHCE) of the Education Ministry against the decision of the university administration to dismiss him

Somsak said that he decided to make the request to exercise his rights against the unjust decision by Thammasat University’s administrator.

“Under the current system of the junta’s National Council of Peace and Order (NCPO), I do not expect much from this, but exercise my right to appeal against the unjust decision,” wrote Somsak on his Facebook profile.

On 23 February, Somkit Lertpaithoon, the Rector of Thammasat University and a member of the junta’s National Legislative Assembly, signed an order to end Somsak’s employment in the civil service as a punishment for his absence from the university for about nine months.

After it was revealed that Somsak was fired, many Thammasat students on 26 February held symbolic activities of lighting candles at Thammasat’s Tha Prachan and Rangsit campuses to show moral support for Somsak and to call for the university to uphold academic freedom.

Also, earlier this month, more than 200 academics and students from Thailand and overseas issued a statement to support Somsak and called for the protection of freedom of expression and academics under the junta’s rule.

Somsak has been very active in criticizing Article 112 (the lèse majesté law) and encouraging reform of the Thai monarchy. He himself faced a lèse majesté charge filed by the Army and faced countless acts of intimidation, including gunfire at his house. After Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha overthrew the government on 22 May 2014, the historian fled the country and is now in self-imposed exile in Europe. Somsak is also an expert on the killing of King Ananda.

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