Security officers disrupt seminar criticising junta’s land policy

The authorities have ordered an NGO to postpone a public seminar about the junta’s land policies, out of fear the seminar would discuss the missing 1932 Revolution plaque.
 
On 19 April 2017, security officers, including police, soldiers and administrative officials, visited the Seub Nakhasathien Foundation (SNF) and asked its staff to postpone a seminar, “Criticising 99-year land leases: will Thailand or someone else benefit?” The seminar was originally scheduled for 23 April. 
 
Onyupha Sangkhaman, SNF staff, told the media that the seminar was forcibly cancelled after the authorities received a tip-off via LINE that the Foundation had planned to host a seminar about the missing plaque commemorating the 1932 Democratic Revolution.     
 
“They interpreted the LINE message as suggesting there would be a seminar about the plaque. They didn’t even know the name of the seminar. They perhaps misunderstood,” said Onyupha. 
 
Onyupha has told the authorities that the seminar had nothing to do with the missing plaque. The seminar’s goal was actually to discuss a proposed bill that will allow foreign investors to lease land in the Eastern Economic Corridor for up to 99 years.    
 
The authorities, however, insisted on postponing the event, reasoning that the land issue is sensitive. If many people had attended the seminar, it could have been considered a public gathering in breach of the junta’s ban. The SNF agreed to cancel the event.
 
Kasetsart University economist Decharut Sukkumnoed, a scheduled speaker at the cancelled seminar, posted on his Facebook page that the authorities did not want the seminar to be held because the law has not been put into action yet.
 
“This morning, I was informed by the organisers that security personnel including soldiers, police, and district officials, visited the Seub Nakhasathien Foundation and asked for a postponement. Since the bill has not been enacted yet, they asked people to keep calm and stay silent,” read Decharat’s post 
 
Though the event was cancelled, Decharat vowed to find an alternative way to have a discussion on the issue on 23 April. He asked his followers to recommend a format and venue for his talk.
 
 
Security officers visit the Seub Nakhasathien Foundation (Photo from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights)