Art exhibit on monarchy ‘Freedom Suspended’ not permitted, protest against BACC-Prachatai
March 25, 2012
Protest against Bangkok Art and Culture Centre for ‘Freedom Suspended’
Prachatai: March 21, 2012
On 18 March, a group of activists held a protest at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre against its decision not to permit a cultural event and academic forum entitled ‘Freedom Suspended’ to take place on its premises. The event was to discuss the issues of the monarchy and lèse majesté law.
The activists blindfolded themselves with red and black pieces of cloth and stood still inside the centre for a moment before disbanding peacefully.
The ‘Freedom Suspended’ event was supposed to be held at the BACC on 18 March by a group of young writers called Saeng Samnuek. However, five days before the scheduled date, the group was told by the BACC that it had decided not to allow the activity to happen.
According to Wad Rawee, a member of the group, they booked a room at the BACC and paid a rental fee on 26 Jan, and details of the event were sent to the BACC in February. BACC staff told them that a room had already been booked for them, and the centre would help advertize the event.
On 13 March, however, they were told by the centre that its board felt worried and members wanted to consult about whether they would permit the event to be held. The Director of the BACC later told them late in the afternoon of the same day that the event was not permitted, saying that the centre was supposed to be a space free from any conflicts whatsoever.
‘Sometimes there are some sensitive issues which might lead to violence. So the centre should be reserved for art and cultural activities by diverse groups of people,’ the director said.
The Saeng Samnuek group then turned to the Faculty of Arts and the Faculty of Political Science of Chulalongkorn University as possible venues, but was refused by both.
The event eventually took place at the 14 Oct Memorial on Ratchadamnoen Ave on 18 March.
At the event, short films were shown, poems read and speeches given by writers and academics including, for example, Somsak Jeamteerasakul who proposed a thorough reform of the monarchy.