Noam Chomsky encourages Thai student activist to keep promoting democracy
In his email to Netiwit, Chomsky encourages him to promote democracy amid concerns of persecution in Thailand. Source: Flickr/Andrew Rusk

World-renowned academic Noam Chomsky is among over 100 international scholars to back Thai student activist Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal who faces disciplinary action from Chulalongkorn University (CU).

On Monday, Chomsky penned an email to Netiwit, encouraging the student to promote democracy in the country amid concerns of persecution, Prachathai English reported.

“I have learned, with dismay, about the ugly treatment to which you have been subjected, and the serious threats against you for standing up for justice and basic rights,” Chomsky wrote to Netiwit in an email dated Aug 14.

“Thailand is going through difficult days, and it is people like you who can pave the way to a much brighter future. I hope and trust the unjust persecution will soon end and that you can continue with your admirable and courageous efforts to lead the way forward.”

Along with seven other students, Netiwit, who is also the university’s student council president, came under the scrutiny of the university’s disciplinary board after they staged a walkout during a university initiation ceremony last week.

The chaos erupted after some of the students refused to sit on the ground and prostrate themselves to pay respect to a monument of the university’s founder, King Rama V.

The report said the students refused to lay on the ground as it was raining at the time. The walkout turned awry when one of the students was put in a chokehold by a lecturer.

The case is still being investigated by the university.

Apart from Chomsky, 128 academics from the Thai Academic Network for Civil Rights (TANCR) issued a public statement condemning the university’s investigation.

The group said the student protest was an exercise in basic rights and freedom, according to Prachathai

“If CU rules these students guilty, it is equivalent to sending a message to people nationwide in the future, if any younger generations dare to exercise the rights and freedom which they have fundamentally, to question established practices, norms, traditions or thoughts, they will be punished as well,” the statement read.

The TANCR also said the university could face harsh criticism if it did not understand the world was constantly changing.

“If the country’s leading university fails to understand this basic idea, the investment of tremendous resources to climb up the world’s leading university rankings is therefore senseless,” the group said.

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