Orwell’s 1984: 4) UK academics urge Thai junta to stop harassing academics, students

Right after the coup, Ptayuth’s junta began summoning and rounding up academics and other leading Thai thinkers, and homes have been raided. Many have fled Thailand, refusing to surrender. What is left in Thailand today, as can be seen in Thailand’s press, is very little independent  thought. One report of such raid, on a family, local reports says about 20 police & soldiers, fully armed with M16s went to a house, and searched everything, leaving the family in shocked, particularly the son.

Khao Sod reports (For comments, or corrections to this article please contact:khaosod.english@gmail.com) A senior police officer has forced an art gallery in Chiang Mai province to call off a screening of “1984,” the film based on George Orwell’s classic dystopian novel about a society living under an oppressive authoritarian regime.  The screening was organised by a local cinophile group, the “Punya Movie Club,” and was scheduled to take place in “room 101″ of the gallery on Sirimangkalajarn Road this Saturday, the poster of the event advertised.  However, a police lieutenant colonel called the gallery owners and persuaded them to cancel the event, said founder of Punya Movie Club, Bodin Theparat.  “The officer told the gallery owners that 1984 is a political film, and it is linked to anti-coup protests,” said Mr. Bodin, without naming the police officer. “He also warned that the screening will violate copyright laws.” Mr. Bodin told Khaosod English that he and other organisers discussed the matter and concluded that the police may show up at the event and use “any excuse” to stop the screening. They decided to cancel the event out of consideration for the gallery owners, who are not involved in politics, and for movie-goers who might end up being prosecuted by authorities.  “In other times,  I would have insisted that I have the rights to show this film, but right now, we are living in surreal times,” Mr. Bodin said. “There are no laws.” Along with the “three-finger salute” from the Hunger Games trilogy, George Orwell’s 1984 has been adopted as a symbol of the anti-coup protest movement. In recent weeks, activists in Bangkok have gathered in small groups to silently read the novel in an effort to express defiance while circumventing the military junta’s ban on public protests.

Since seizing power in a coup d’etat on 22 May, the military’s National Council of Peace and Order (NCPO) has outlawed public demonstrations and threatened to send transgressors to face trial in military courts. The NCPO has already detained scores of anti-coup protesters and activists thought to be critical of the military takeover.  Mr. Bodin explained that his group initially planned to screen the film adaptation of the novel because many people have heard of the book’s connection to the ongoing anti-coup campaign, yet have not read the book or seen the film. “I didn’t know there would be problem,” Mr. Bodin said. “At first we planned to include a discussion panel at the end of film and invite academics, too, but we realised that wouldn’t be allowed, so we already scaled down the event.” Asked whether the group will try to arrange a new screening, Mr. Bodin said his group is debating a number of possibilities, such as organising a “no-film screening” to protest the cancellation of the original event, but he personally believes such defiant gesture would only draw more attention  from the authorities. “I think we already made the point of the film 1984 even though we couldn’t screen it: that we are living in a world like 1984,” Mr. Bodin said.

The following is from Prachathai (source)

UK academics urge Thai junta to stop harassing academics, students

Tue, 10/06/2014 – 13:40 | by prachatai

 The following is an open letter, signed by UK academics, university staff and students, to Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, the leader of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO). It calls for an immediate release of detainees and the suppression on intellectual freedom and freedom of expression.

To: General Prayuth Chan-ocha, leader of the coup in Thailand

From: UK academics and university staff and students

We note the military coup d’état in Thailand (22 May 2014) – the 13th since the end of the absolute monarchy in 1932. We stand with those protesters who are calling for a return to constitutional rule by a civilian government.

As academics and university staff and students, we also wish to express particular concern at the surveillance, harassment, and round-up of academics and students calling for democracy and the reinstatement of civilian rule. Academics and students who have been critics of the lèse-majesté law have been summonsed and we understand that some have gone into hiding as a result. We join with all others who have also called upon the Commander in Chief of the Royal Thai Army to immediately release politicians, activists, journalists, academics and others who have been harassed and imprisoned following the military summons to stop making any political criticism or comment. We condemn the move ordering universities to monitor the political activities of staff and students on campuses, and are also concerned that some universities have issued orders to their staff and students to refrain from making any political comment in the public sphere.

We support and admire the courage of university staff and students who continue to gather at Thammasat University and other protest sites. Intellectual freedom and freedom of speech are fundamental tenets of a democratic society and functioning university system alike and we urge their restoration.

Professor Gurminder K Bhambra, University of Warwick

Professor John Holmwood, University of Nottingham

Professor Les Back, Goldsmiths, University of London

Dr Ipek Demir, University of Leicester

Dr Kirsten Forkert, Birmingham City University

Dr Robbie Shilliam, Queen Mary University of London

Dr Lee Jones, Queen Mary University of London

Mark Carrigan, University of Warwick

Dr John Narayan, University of Warwick

Dr Madhumita Lahiri, University of Warwick

Dr Peo Hansen, Linköping University

Dr Daniel Orrells, University of Warwick

Professor Luke Martell, University of Sussex

Professor Andrew Sayer, Lancaster University

Dr Malcolm MacLean, University of Gloucestershire

Emeritus Professor Gavin Edwards, University of South Wales

Professor Raphael Salkie, University of Brighton

Dr Nessa Cronin, National University of Ireland, Galway

Professor Jonathan S. Davies, De Montfort University

Dr Jo Ingold, University of Leeds

Professor William Outhwaite, University of Newcastle

Lauren Tooker, University of Warwick

Professor Larry Ray, University of Kent

Dr Justin Cruickshank, University of Birmingham

Professor Robert Fine, University of Warwick

Dr Rosa Vasilaki, University of Bristol

Dr Carole Jones, University of Edinburgh

Bernard Sufrin (Emeritus Fellow, Worcester College) University of Oxford

Professor Nickie Charles, University of Warwick

Dr Luke Yates, University of Manchester

Claire Blencowe, University of Warwick

Professor Patrick Ainley, University of Greenwich

Dr Kevin McSorley, University of Portsmouth

Gabriel Newfield (retired Pro-Director), University of Hertfordshire

Professor Mick Carpenter, University of Warwick

Dr Andrea Hajek, University of Glasgow

Lisa Tilley, University of Warwick

Dr Nicola Pratt, University of Warwick

Dr J. Sanchez Taylor, University of Leicester

Dr David Featherstone, University of Glasgow

Dr Angela Last, University of Glasgow

Dr Bryn Jones, University of Bath

Simon Dawes (independent scholar)

Prof Chris Jones, Liverpool John Moores University

Dr Vivienne Jackson

Chrysi Papaioannou, University of Leeds

Lee Mackinnon, Goldsmiths, University of London

Dr Goldie Osuri, University of Warwick

Dr Geoff Williams, University College London

Dr Hannah Jones, University of Warwick

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