Renowned critic of Monarchy, went underground hiding, re-emerges with a post on Facebook

Khao Sor reports that in a Thai historian wanted by the military junta for criticising the monarchy spoke out for first time on Saturday, on a Facebook post, since he went into hiding six months ago. Khao Sod also reports that in an address to the parliament as Prime Minister on 12 September, Gen. Prayuth decreed, “We will use legal measures, social-psychological measures, and telecommunications and information technology to deal with those who are not mindful of their words, are arrogant at heart, or harbour ill intentions to undermine the important Institution of the nation.”

The following is from Khao Sod (Source)

Renowned Critic of Thai Monarchy Re-Emerges

BANGKOK – A Thai historian wanted by the military junta for criticising the monarchy spoke out for first time on Saturday since he went into hiding six months ago.

Somsak Jeamteerasakul, a 56-year-old professor who taught political history at Thammasat University, wrote on his Facebook account early Saturday morning that he is alive and well at an undisclosed location.

“I thank all of you who sent me (hundreds of) messages to my inbox. They are so many. I fear I cannot answer to each of them personally. So I have to express my thanks here,” Somsak wrote. “I have been away for six months. There are so many issues I want to discuss with all of you. I will have to write about them bits by bits in the next threads.”

Somsak is a rare outspoken critic of the monarchy in Thailand, where offending the Royal Family is a crime punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

In February, the spokesperson of the Royal Thai Army publicly threatened to press lese majeste (insulting the monarchy) charges and an unspecified “social measure” against Somsak if he did not stop writing critically about the Royal Family on his Facebook.

“The army would like to call on every sector to keep careful watch, in order to prevent anyone from slandering or insulting our beloved monarchy,” said the spokesperson, Col. Winthai Suwaree.

A week later, masked gunmen sprayed bullets across Somsak’s residence in Bangkok suburb, drawing condemnation from a number of academics who accused the army of intimidating the historian. Somsak was at home when the incident took place but was not injured, though he told the press that one bullet missed his head “by inches.”

After Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, then-chief of the Thai army, staged a military coup on 22 May 2014, the junta summoned Somsak and hundreds of other academics, activists, and politicians for “attitude adjustment.” Somsak did not comply, prompting the military court to issue an arrest warrant for him.

Somsak, who commands a cult following in progressive Thai circles, refrained from posting any comments his social media accounts for the next six months following the coup. His silence has caused anxiety for many Thai activists, who feared he was captured and held incommunicado by the Thai authorities.

The Facebook post confirming his well-being on 22 November – precisely six months after the junta took power – has been received enthusiastically by his supporters.

On the same day, students at Suankularb Witthayalai School, where Somsak studied in his high school years, paid a tribute to the historian’s break of silence by performing a card stunt to resemble him during a football match against a rival school.

In the mass card stunt, students juxtaposed Somsak’s face with that of Veera Somkwamkid, an ultra-conservative activist, who also graduated from Suankularb Witthayalai.

Although Somsak did not make his current whereabouts known, he did publish a photo, presumably taken by himself, of a building on 9 Rue Du Sommerard in Paris where a group of overseas Thai revolutionaries met secretly in 1929 and plotted to overthrow the absolute monarchy in Thailand.

Several close aides of Somsak also confirmed privately to Khaosod English Somsak is living a life in exile in a certain “Western country.”

After re-emerging on Facebook on Saturday, Somsak also published series of analyses about the 22 May 2014 coup, the Thai monarchy, and his thoughts on the current state of the Redshirt movement.

His comments forced the spokesperson of the Thai military junta, Col. Winthai Suwaree, to say at a press conference today that Somsak should not discredit himself as a professor by airing “unsubstantiated” remarks about the monarchy.

“Some matters are delicate,” Col. Winthai said. “He should refrain from using defamatory words or using feeling to criticise another individual or organisation. It may affect his professional credibility.”

Since staging the coup on 22 May 2014, the military junta has stepped up the effort to prosecute perceived “threats” to the monarchy.

In an address to the parliament as Prime Minister on 12 September, Gen. Prayuth decreed, “We will use legal measures, social-psychological measures, and telecommunications and information technology to deal with those who are not mindful of their words, are arrogant at heart, or harbour ill intentions to undermine the important Institution of the nation.”

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