Prayut urged to end summons against forum organiser

Chayan Vaddhanaphuti speaks during the 13th International Conference on Thai Studies in Chiang Mai on July 15. (Photo from Facebook account)

Academics and activists are calling on the government and National Council for Peace and Order to drop a summons issued for an organiser of an academic forum in Chiang Mai and four other attendees last month.

The Campaign for Popular Democracy (CPD) on Sunday issued a statement urging Prime Minister and NCPO chairman Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha to order security authorities to reconsider the summons for the five persons.

The summons were issued by Chang Phuak police station in Chiang Mai on Aug 11, almost a month after the curtain closed on the 13th International Conference on Thai Studies in Chiang Mai. The four-day forum, which brought together more than 1,000 participants, ended on July 18.

Police acted after a complaint filed by Col Suebsakul Buarwong, the 33rd Military Circle Commander based in Chiang Mai.

The targets are Chayan Vaddhanaphuti, Pakawadee Veerapatpong, Chaipong Samnieng, Nontawat Machai and Thiramon Bua-ngam.

Mr Chayan, who is director of the Regional Centre for Social Science and Sustainable Development at Chiang Mai University, was one of the organisers of the conference. The rest were participants.

All have been ordered to report to police by Wednesday after the deadline was postponed from last Tuesday.

Reconsidering the summons would help maintain freedom of expression and academic freedom, said the CPD, a non-governmental organisation.

The Thai Academic Network for Civil Rights on Friday issued a statement – backed by 291 academics and activists – criticising the summons.

Mr Chayan said he will report to police on Monday, according to Matichon online.

During the conference, a group of Thai and foreign academics urged the government to return freedom to the country. Some participants also held a banner reading “An academic forum, not a military camp”.

The banner was not part of the activities prepared by the conference, Mr Chayan told the online websiteTransborder News on Tuesday. He suspected that the banner could have lead to the decision for authorities to file the complaint with police.

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