We the undersigned express our alarm and dismay at the Summons issued by Col Suebsakul Buarawong, deputy commander of the 33rd Military Circle in Chiang Mai, to Dr Chayan Vaddhanaphuti, Pakawadee Veerapatpong, Chaipong Samnieng, Nontawat Machai, and Thiramon Bua-ngam. They are accused of violating the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) chief’s Order No.3/2015, Thailand’s military regime’s ban on political gatherings of five or more persons. Conviction on the charges issued against these five scholars carries a potential six months in prison.
The International Conference on Thai Studies is the main international scholarly forum for presentation and discussion of research on Thailand. It has been held every three years since 1981, hosted by universities in Thailand, Australia, China, India, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States. In July 2017 the conference was hosted by Chiang Mai University and achieved a record turnout of 1224 participants. The conference was a resounding success. It was marred only by the intimidating presence of uniformed and non- uniformed security personnel.
The intimidating presence of security personnel at ICTS13 and more generally at scholarly events is in direct contravention of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Thailand is a party. It also contravenes the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which Thailand has also signed, and which guarantees academic freedom.
We call on the military government of Thailand to:
1. Immediately withdraw the summons and implied charges against Dr Chayan Vaddhanaphuti, Ms Pakawadee Veerapatpong, Mr Chaipong Samnieng, Mr Nontawat Machai, and Mr Thiramon Bua-ngam.
2. Cease forthwith the intimidation of academics and students in their conduct of scholarly teaching, research, public discussion and debate, on- and off-campus.
3. Cease the restriction of free and open discussion on pressing issues of concern to the wider Thai public, in line with Thailand’s international commitments.
Dated Friday 18 August
Signed by 291 ICTS13 participants (see attached)