FACTorial: Fearlessness walk for political prisoners

December 10, 2011

We are all Akong!

Pix: http://prachatai.com/journal/2011/12/38271

On Constitution Day more than 150 people from many walks of life joined a silent march from Victory Monument to Ratchaprasong. Noted social critic and academic Sulak Sivaraksa has been charged four times with lèse majesté and has authored at least three banned books and was a prominent marcher. I felt honoured to be able to march against fear with this octogenarian tiger.

Many marchers had written ‘Akong’ in Thai on their hands to support Uncle SMS Amphon Tangnoppakul who was sentenced last month to 20 years in prison for lèse majesté. Some protest was creative with posters equating lèse majesté with Les Misérables and a marcher with an empty picture frame which, of course, included himself—any of us is subject to capricious political arrest.

In nearly a quarter-century as an academic in Thailand, I have never marched before in public protest. But desperate times call for desperate measures. It is not only the right of all those who love Thailand to protest injustice, it is our duty and responsibility.

I marched for Joe Gordon.

I marched for Grandpa Amphon, my own proud grandfather,

for all grandfathers, including King Bhumibol.

I marched because I am a grandfather, the same age as Akong,

the same nationality as Joe.

I marched for single father Tantawut, for Darunee, for Surachai.

As friend and colleague, I marched for Somyot and Chiranuch.

This march was not about politics—freedom of expression transcends politics. It was to protest the very human censorship of prosecutions and gaolings. Politics never changes but our global conversation can make Thailand live up to its name: “Free people”.

I marched because I’m mad as hell. I’m outraged that judges and politicians and bureaucrats and generals presume they can speak for the wishes of my king. That’s the real lèse majesté. These baboons think to prove their loyalty by their preening, their fawning, their bowing and scraping. But they’re still just baboons, with empty heads and red, hairless asses from dragging them on the ground. True loyalty needs no protection from insult because it’s true. And I’m not going to take it any more.

Thai government is blocking a quarter of a million web pages, 2,500 books are banned. A political prison is being planned for political prisoners, and an even more draconian computer law has been tabled in Parliament, along with a law against public demonstrations exactly like this one.

Good Germans didn’t speak out over the atrocities of the Nazis. Good Burmese didn’t speak out over the rise of the generals, the censorship, the political prisoners. Good Cambodians didn’t speak out over the brutal excesses of the Khmer Rouge. All these happened in a single instant in history. Don’t let tyranny rule our beloved Thailand.

The time to raise our voices loud for justice is now. It’s high time to stop being sheep. It’s certainly time to stop being afraid.

Marching today, I realised, for the first time, I AM NO LONGER AFRAID.

I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore! Enough!


CJ Hinke

Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT)


4 Responses to “FACTorial: Fearlessness walk for political prisoners”

  1. […] today we saw dozens of people marching their Fearlessness Walk from Victory Monument to Ratchaprasong. The longer I observe Thai politics from afar, the simpler […]

  2. Amen! Well said! Good Stuff!

    I hadn’t realized that it was dragging them on the ground that polished their red asses, rendering them so shiny, so hirsute! But then I live far away from the zoo and haven’t the opportunity, the sad duty, to observe them at close quarters as you have.

    Good Stuff! Well said! Amen!

  3. I didn’t mention the Burmese so you must be addressing CJ, Jan. I’ll let him speak for himself, but my thought is that by the time the brave Burmese did protest,,, and they were fearless and brave in the face of many, many killed by the brutal Burmese Tatmadaw… it was too late. Just as it was too late to for the Germans to have opposed the Nazis after the invasion of Poland.

    It’s never too late, I know, But it can be effectively too late. Too late to do anything but die opposing the brutal regime.

    The idea is to act on what you see happening before it’s too late.

    I’m an American… and so an authority on waiting, and waiting, and waiting to effectively oppose the criminal regime. There were millions in the streets prior to the invasion of Iraq… but that was not enough, obviously, to stop the invasion’s going forward. And there has been precious little opposition on a large scale since. What’s required is whatever it takes to get the job done, to effect the goal, and we have been found lacking. We Americans have been down for a decade.

    The idea is not to demonize the Americans or the Burmese for their failures but to applaud their successes whenever they do occur. Although there have been successes, human civilization in general is nothing but a string of failures, criticizing a people for failing yet again is “dog bites man”.

    I think that what’s being celebrated here is “man bites dog”, at least from my point of view. Ordinary Thais biting back at the police dogs of oppression. And I celebrate the events you link to as emblematic of the fearlessness and bravery of the Burmese people. But it wasn’t enough. They were crushed and have remained crushed for more than two long decades.

    Government’s everywhere need very close supervision. They are all easily subverted, they are built to be, by those who view life as a zero sum game and who are ruthless enough to play by no rules. Direct democratic control of government seems to me to be the only way to reign them in. Once the subverters of government have got the bit in their teeth, as they do now in Burma and the US, to cite just two countries, it’s a terribly difficult undertaking to bring governments under control.

    The Royal Thai Army generals have been defeated at the polls, as the Burmese generals were in 1990. The task at hand now is to keep them out of government, for if they come back now it will be two decades of brutal military control in Thailand as well. It’s good to see some Thais willing to standing up to them, willing to call them out on their big lie, even though the Inquisition will attempt to brand them as Heretics for doing so.

    I hope to see more Thais join them, more Thais demonstrating support for their elected government, more Thais demanding that their elected officials stand up on their hind legs themselves, follow the Nitirat’s advice, and ensure that the coup of 2006 was the last coup in Thai history.

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