Thais in Exile

Several hundred academics and activists were detained.


Jumat, 05 Des 2014 18:35 WIB


Kannikar Petchkaew

Thais in Exile

Thailand, military, Martial Law, censorship, Kannikar Petchkaew

Martial law has brought calm but not peace to Thailand.

That's the findings of a report this week launched by the International crisis group.

The report warn that the military regime’s stifling of dissent could lead to greater turmoil.

The military claims the the coup was staged to maintain order after six months of street protests by anti-government protests.

They took TV channels and radio stations off air and only heavily censored versions have been allowed to return.  Several hundred academics and activists were detained.

Many others have fled to the west where they are applying for asylum.

From his new home in America Jom Petpradab makes a skype call home to his nephew.

He tells him he doing fine in the US and says ‘don’t worry about me, just go to school and do your best.’

After he hangs up he says he was just putting on a brave face.

“It is not fine at all but I prefer to stay here where I can have freedom of expression and can do my work without any interfere or suppression.”

Jom Petpradab left Thailand right after the military coup in May this year.

He worked as a journalist for more than 20 years in Thailand but after the coup he felt there was no point staying—the media was no longer free.

Because he gave air time to controversial figures—including former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.- he feared he would be jailed.

“I can’t help feeling nervous about what’s going to happen now if my asylum claim is not granted.  But I have heard that my case is being processed and I can stay here even when my tourist visa runs out.”

In San Francisco is Jarupong Ruangsuwun the former Minister of Interior in the party Thaksin founded.

Jarupong fled the country with his family weeks after the coup, and now lives in America and is waiting for his asylum claim to be processed.

He says he spends his time online talking to people back in Thailand.

“I enjoy talking through LINE application. I am now addict to it and also the internet.  With freedom of expression here I can research anything and talk about any topic.  Thais can’t do this.”

The military junta has put out an arrest warrant for him—he is facing three charges: Disobeying the junta’s summon, violating the computer act and libel.

And if he returns to Thailand he will likely be jailed.

“I’m 68 now but will go on fighting. I don’t mean in the radical way, we will just keep speaking out and letting the whole world know the truth and push for change. The world won’t tolerate the dictatorships. Thai people have never tolerated dictator ship they just can’t say the truth because guns are pointed at them. Guns and weapons paid for by the people’s sweat and hard work.”

Kritsuda Khunasaen was an anti-government protestor who was detained by the military for 30 days.

She says she was blindfolded and then beaten and sexual harassed.

Once released she was helped out of the country.

Now she is Norway and is living in an asylum seekers transit home.

“When I arrived 4 months ago I felt so depressed and overwhelmed with fear and anger. I can’t speak their language. I don’t know what will happen and what life will be like here. Things are getting a bit better now with the support of lots of people and I am getting settled in and starting to be optimistic. I felt very fortunately that I could quickly flee. What I gained here is a new life. I have freedom here. It’s amazing that another country has helped me why my won country has done the opposite to their people.”


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