Lecturers tell NCPO: Stop threats to academics and students

Lecturers tell NCPO: Stop threats to academics and students

A GROUP of lecturers yesterday called on the junta to stop threatening academics and students who express political views.
The group, gathered under the Network of Lecturers Concerned for Detained Students, submitted a letter to chief of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Prayut Chan-o-cha through the government's public service centre. The letter carried signatures of more than 300 local and foreign lecturers.

Ten representatives, led by Thammasat University sociology lecturer Anusorn Unno, read a statement together with the submitted letter.

The move came in response to an alleged police threat to summon at least six university lecturers for allegedly violating the NCPO order banning gatherings of more than five people.

Chiang Mai University lecturers Attachak Satayanurak and Somchai Preechasilpakul were summonsed to report to the police in Chiang Mai today. They were among lecturers who held a press conference with the title "Universities Are Not Barracks" last month to counter claims that universities were hatching criticism of the government.

'Universities are not barracks'

Anusorn yesterday stood firm, reiterating that "universities were not barracks and Thailand was not a military camp". The statement he read called on the NCPO to stop interfering in universities' affairs, including their teaching approaches and curricula for students.

The group also asked the junta to stop threatening them and their students for expressing political views.

"Pressing charges against academics who criticise the NCPO is considered a threat to and a violation of rights and freedoms. It is academics' job to educate the public," said Anusorn, adding that lecturers in his group had been repeatedly threatened by the authorities while students were prohibited from holding political activities.

The group further claimed the junta had demanded an academic course that praised the military. This contradicted basic rights and freedoms of education, the activist lecturer said.

He said that if the threats from the junta to academics continued, the group would step up their action.

The group would watch closely how the meeting between Chiang Mai based lecturers and the police today turned out, he said. Also, they were eager to hear the government's response to the statement, he said, adding that they would decide on their next move within the next fortnight.

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