Defiant academic summoned after calling for academic freedom

The Thai authorities have summoned to a police station an academic who urged the junta not to intervene in academic freedom.

According to Midnight University, a virtual university for free public education, police from Chang Puak Police Station in northern Chiang Mai Province issued a summons for Attachak Sattayanurak, a history lecturer from Chiang Mai University.

The summons, issued on 11 November 2015, was sent Kongkrit Triyawong, a philosophy lecturer of Silpakorn University. It summons Attachak and several other academics to report to Chang Puak Police Station at 9 am on 24 November 2015.

The letter states that Attachak and other fellow academics participated in a political gathering which violated the junta’s National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Order No. 3/2015, which bans any political gathering of five or more persons.

If found guilty, Attachak and the other academics could be jailed for up to one year and fined up to 20,000 baht.

Attachak said that the summons was issued in relation to a joint statement of a network of academics countrywide, which he read out in a public lecture hall on 31 October 2015. The statement urges the Thai junta not to intervene in academic freedom, saying that ‘universities are not military camps’.

Military prosecutors filed a complaint to the police against the academics involved in the event, said Attachak.   

He told the media that from what the police told him, a summons will be issued for eight academics in total, including him, adding that the philosophy lecturer Kongkrit was not involved and was not even in Chiang Mai on 31 October.   

The academic told Prachatai that he is not worried about the summons. “I’m not worried. I have my duty to speak and express my thoughts to society and will continue to do so. Actually, I already made it clear to high ranking military officers in Chiang Mai that [they] can’t just prohibit us from doing anything. We are academics and have to say what we think.”

He added “I’m defending every university. They are not military camps where they can order people to turn left and right. Otherwise, we might have to change the name to Chiang Mai [Military] Camp University.”

Attachak told Prachatai that after the 2014 coup d’état, military and police officers came to his house while he was on a fellowship programme in Japan. When he came back, the officers came to have discussions with him several times at the university.

On 27 October 2015, Prayut Chan-o-cha, the junta leader and Prime Minister, announced that he will order the Ministry of Education to adjust school curricula in in order to prevent conflicts and anti-junta sentiments.


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