Interminable intimidation

A Reuters report refers to the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights group and the military junta’s “intensifying intimidation of academics who criticize the generals’ efforts to stay in power by sending army officers to their homes…”.

The report provides the math of this:

Since the military seized power nearly two years ago, at least 77 academics have been harassed at home by officers advising them to adjust their critical mindset or ordered to attend camps for indoctrination….

At least five academics have been forced into exile….

On of the lawyers observes that the junta’s legitimacy is “stretching thin and achievements falling flat, the junta feels the pressure to silence critics to maintain its power…”.

The report records the case of “self-exiled prominent Thai academic Pavin Chachavalpongpun [who] took to social media to accuse the junta of intimidating his family in Thailand.”

He makes the obvious point: “To hunt me is already unacceptable. But for them to go after my family is really too much…”.

Of course, the dunces in the junta respond with ridiculous claims:

Junta spokesman Colonel Winthai Suvaree denied that the military is pursuing academics with greater zeal and told Reuters he was unaware of any intimidation of Pavin’s family.

They are stupid, but these kinds of lies are evidence that the junta feels it is unconstrained in its authoritarianism yet worried that its regime can be brought down in a flash.

Kan Yuenyong, an analyst at Siam Intelligence Unit think-tank, puts it this way:

The military sees academics as a mouthpiece whose messages carry big significance…. Their criticism can do a lot to undermine the junta’s legitimacy.

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