Academic sets up anti-coup petition online
A website has been set up to collect signatures demanding that the Council for Democratic Reform under Constitutional Monarchy (CDRM) not arrest or harm protestors who planned to express their disagreement with the coup.
The online petition, www.petitiononline.com/thaicoup/petition.html, was the initiative of Thongchai Winichakul, a professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and declares that all who have signed regret the September 19 coup and hope that democracy will be restored to Thailand as soon as possible.
Furthermore, it urges the CDRM to respect freedom of expression which is a basic human right by allowing those who disagree with the coup to express their opinions in the media, on web sites, and at public gatherings.
"The right to publicly express opinions belongs to every human being and cannot be suspended or taken away by any authority of any regime," Thongchai said.
So far there are more than 220 people from various countries who have signed the petition; besides Thongchai, they include: Ji Ungphakorn, a political scientist at Chulalongkorn University (CU); Kasian Tejapira, a political scientist at Thammasat University; Chalong Soontravanich, a history professor at CU; Viroj Naranong, an economist at the Thailand Development and Research Institute; Duncan McCargo, a professor of Southeast Asian Politics at the University of Leeds; and Michael Connors of La Trobe University, a co-author of The New Global Politics of the Asia Pacific.
The comments posted on the website include, "a coup must be condemned, no matter what it calls itself" and "if the CDRM has a higher morality and ethics than the Thaksin regime, it should not use their power to prohibit the people, particularly the youth, to gather and express their opinions peacefully. The youth do not have a conflict of interest like the People's Alliance for Democracy might have. (At least the Thaksin regime allowed public rallies to take place)."
The online petition was set up after Thongchai learned that a group of young activists who call themselves the "19 September Network against Coup d'Etat" had called on the public to wear black and gather at the Siam Paragon shopping centre this evening to express their disagreement with the coup.
Previously on Thursday, the coup leadership asked the media to change its English name from the Administrative Reform Council, or the Council for Democratic Reform as referred to by many media, to the Council for Democratic Reform under Constitutional Monarchy.