• Wed
  • Nov 19, 2014
  • Updated: 6:49am
NewsAsia
THAILAND

Protesting Thai reader of Orwell's 1984 dragged off by police in Bangkok

PUBLISHED : Monday, 23 June, 2014, 3:25am
UPDATED : Monday, 23 June, 2014, 3:39am
 

Police in Thailand yesterday arrested eight people for demonstrating against the nation's increasingly repressive military junta, including a man dragged away by undercover officers for reading a copy of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. The arrest was the first known case of anyone being detained for reading as a form of protest since the military seized power last month.

Handfuls of anti-coup protesters have staged several silent readings of the book in recent weeks, saying its indictment of totalitarianism has become relevant after the army deposed the nation's elected government in a May 22 coup.

A police officer said all the arrests took place in and around the upmarket Siam Paragon mall in central Bangkok.

A Thai reporter who witnessed the lone man reading Orwell's classic said he was taken away by half a dozen plainclothes police. The reporter said the man held the book up as officers approached.

When questioned, the man said he was reading the book for "liberty, equality and fraternity" - the slogan of the French Revolution. The man was also playing the French national anthem on his smartphone.

Another of the arrests was of a woman wearing a T-shirt with the words "Respect My Vote" on it. The phrase became popular among pro-democracy groups trying to counter anti-government protesters who obstructed February elections that were later annulled in a controversial court ruling.

Share

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive
 
 

 

 
 
 
 
 
8

This article is now closed to comments

53ad0b1d-4e04-4089-93c6-52c30a3209cb
Anson, Thailand is not a sad case. Politicians are dirty. People in the rural were being tricked to elect them into power. And it's them who cry democracy and doing exactly what dictators did to countries like North Korea, ****ia, Congo and many others. Corrupted government limited our freedom of speech more than the coup did. Corrupted government sell of our resources to foreign company and pocket all the profit themselves. A lot more issue you can find out yourself, if you are not bias. Our Monarchy are great. FYI, like all Democratic country, Monarchy and Royal families are above politic. You claimed that you are wondering why they did not reciprocate people's love and respect, where is the evidence of that? Go research again, the uncountable things our King and Royal family members done and still doing for us. Weak monarchy? Get a grip of yourself, you do not make any sense. The military has not exert themselves until we've reached a dreadlock. And we cannot forget external threats. Thailand has been maintaining our liberty for hundreds of years. What happened when militaty took over in other countries do not apply to us. Thai Soldiers treat its citizens more respect and courtesy than the corrupted police did when we were under fake democracy by dirty politicians. If you shallowly read into a story can come with surface assumption, don't voice it in public. It won't make you look wise.
53ad3e05-96b4-47c6-abda-08ef0a3209ca
But not when the "democratically elected" government mass murders 3000 innocent people in 90 days during a so-called "war on drugs?" Or disappears 18 human rights activists during Thaksin's first term in office? Or runs a 6 month terror campaign to break the will of peaceful protesters? Or nepotist proxy regimes run by a fugitive hiding in a hotel in Dubai?
Please! Give us a break already! The new government may not be a shining beacon of democracy, but be honest about how we arrived at this point in the first place! This kid is defending a terrorist, mass murdering, criminal regime! Not the "loss" of "democracy" that never existed in the first place. If anything, he is undermining real democracy, not defending it.
53ad0b1d-4e04-4089-93c6-52c30a3209cb
Define dictatorship... i live here and it didn't feels that way.
53ad3e05-96b4-47c6-abda-08ef0a3209ca
Isn't it amazing? One kid supporting the US-backed criminal regime of mass **** Thaksin Shinawatra gets shaken down by the military and it is headline news across the planet, while minorities are warrantlessly shaken down all across America EVERYDAY without so much of a peep from the media. I'm not sure what is worse, the media's role as lobbyists for the ousted Shinawatra regime, or how badly REAL democracy and human rights have suffered because of criminals hiding behind them.
mymak
Thailand is such a sad case. The majority elect a leader but the minority don't want that leader, so they have them removed. I have always wondered, in a country that supposedly revers its King so much, what role has the monarchy in this? Why do they not reciprocate the people's love and respect? Thailand appears to have a weak monarchy and a powerful military whose main goal is to ensure that they maintain domestic control. Forget external threats, just make sure you can beat the people down.
LunarRepublic
You know a country is turning into a dictatorship when they have to arrest someone for reading a book in public.
53b22d7c-3488-4e7a-b6aa-74360a320969
Anson says: "Thailand is such a sad case. The majority elect a leader but the minority don't want that leader, so they have them removed." I have to agree. Venezuela too has had to suffer more than 14 years of a violent wealthy elite which has never accepted a that for the first time in the country's history, the poor majority have elected a government which has furthered the interests of the poor, rather than the wealthy few. The right in Venezuela also reacted by misusing their domination of the media, extreme violence, murder and intimidation. They have poisoned the minds of thousands of their compatriots with misinformation and lies and created a polarised country in which good people on both sides distrust each other and see each other as the devil incarnate. Unfortunately for Thailand, those who hate democracy seem to control the army and other powerful institutions.
elzach
em, I think a military coup and military government can safely be called a "dictatorship", already.

Login

SCMP.com Account

or