Thailand: Dissent is Not a Crime

06.07.2015 - Pressenza Hong Kong

Thailand: Dissent is Not a Crime
(Image by Human Rights Watch)

A Statement from the International Solidarity for Thai Students and Teachers forwarded by the Asian Human Rights Commission

THAILAND: Dissent is Not a Crime – Call for International Solidarity with Imprisoned Thai Students

Fourteen Thai students were arrested on 26 June 2015 and are currently being detained in Bangkok after a series of peaceful protests against the military dictatorship of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO). They have been accused of violating NCPO Order No. 3/2558, which prohibits political demonstrations, and Article 116 of the Criminal Code, which prohibits incitement and agitation. If they are formally charged, they are subject to prosecution within the military court system, in which there is no appeal. If convicted, they face up to seven-and-a-half years in prison.

The students adhere to a five-point platform of democracy, human rights, justice, public participation, and non-violence. Their arrest comes after a year of sustained attacks on freedom of expression and political freedom by the NCPO.  Hundreds of citizens have been summoned for arbitrary detention and “attitude adjustment” by the junta. Citizens have been convicted and sentenced to lengthy prison terms for allegedly committing lèse majesté by performing theatre plays, writing graffiti in bathrooms, and posting comments online.  In the name of “reform,” the junta aims to eliminate dissent.

The arrest of the fourteen students has prompted an outpouring of support for them by university teachers and citizens across Thailand, who have organized petitions, visits to the prison, and candlelight vigils at the prison where the students are being held. The latest attack on political freedom has been the surveillance and harassment of these teachers by the government authorities.

As university teachers outside Thailand, we call on current and former students and teachers around the world to join the campaign for their release by writing messages of solidarity.

How to join the campaign:

Option #1:  Write a message of solidarity with the imprisoned fourteen students and their supporters on a piece of paper. Short messages, poems, art work are all encouraged!  You are encouraged to write in English and/or any other language that you speak. Sign your name, current status [student/faculty/staff/alumni/retired], and institution.  You may also choose to use only part of your name or to be anonymous. Take a photograph of your message and send it to solidaritythai14@gmail.com. If you feel more comfortable participating anonymously, sign up for a temporary email address with a service such as10 Minute Mail and send us your message that way.

Option #2: Type your message and the signature you wish into the text of an email tosolidaritythai14@gmail.com and we will write it on a piece of paper, photograph it for you, and add it to the collection.

Send your message by 12 noon on 6 July. We encourage you to share this message with your colleagues and to post your own image to social media with the hashtags #FreeThai14 and #freethe14.

On 7 July 2015, on the morning of the students’ appearance in military court for a hearing concerning the extension of their detention, we will release all of the photographs of messages as a collection via social media channels. We will issue a press release reiterating the call for the immediate, unconditional release of the students and containing the total number of messages, number of people/institutions/countries represented as well as highlights of their contents.

International Solidarity for Thai Students and Teachers

solidaritythai14@gmail.com

For more information, please see

 

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