(13 February) A group of academic activists has condemned the gunfire attack at the residence of the historian known for his criticism of the Thai monarchy.
Mr. Somsak Jeamteerasakul, who teaches at Thammasat University, said assailants on motorcycle arrived at his house in Bangkok suburb at around midday on Wednesday before firing their weapons at his car and windows.
The gunmen quickly fled the scene. Mr. Somsak was not injured, but he told reporters that one bullet narrowly missed his head.
The historian is also being investigated by the Royal Thai Army, which threatened to punish him by legal means and "social measures" for his remarks about the Thai monarchy.
Under the Article 112 of the Thai Criminal Codes, remarks deemed as defaming the Royal Family can be punishable by up to 15 years in prison. As the laws is widely interpreted to cover any criticism of the monarchy, Mr. Somsak is well-known for his rare willingness to discuss the roles of the monarchy whereas many other Thais and foreigners alike prefer to avoid the taboo.
A number of pro-monarchy commentators on the internet reacted with joy when they heard the news of attacks on Mr. Somsak′s house. Some publicly expressed their regrets that the historian somehow managed to survive the gunfire.
On the other hand, Nitirart (the Enlightened Jurists), a group of progressive laws academics known for their opposition to Article 112, have thrown their support behind Mr. Somsak by condemning the incident as "barbaric" and "uncivilised".
"Those who disagree with Mr. Somsak are encouraged to express their disagreement by presenting facts that would debate Mr. Somsak′s points," Nitirart said in a statement, "Such action would benefit the academic discussion, strengthen the democratic development, and benefit the monarchy itself".
The statement went on to criticise Col. Winthai Suvaree, deputy spokesman of the Royal Thai Army, for urging the public to use "social measure" to silence Mr. Somsak.
"The call … will lead to hatred, which will eventually rob individuals of their conscience and encourage them to commit extra-judicial acts to intimidate the rights over life of other people," Nitirart warned.
The group also demanded the authorities to investigate the attack on Mr. Somsak′s residence "in order to prove that Thailand is still ruled by the laws", and urged the army to state their stance over the incident.
Meanwhile, police officers determined that Mr. Somsak′s assailants used one shotgun and one pistol in the attack. The gunmen also reportedly hurled a brick and an unexploded molotov cocktail toward the house.
CCTV footage of the attacks has been obtained by the police.
A security guard who was manning a checkpoint near Mr. Somsak′s house said the gunmen consisted of 2 men on motorcycle, and 2 women on another motorcycle who was waiting nearby. According to the guard, the men refused to hand over their ID cards when they entered the gated community, claiming that they were in a hurry.
The attackers left the community shortly afterward, the guard said, adding that one of the group wore a whistle which resembles the symbol of anti-government protests.
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