By Pravit Rojanaphruk
Senior Staff Writer
CHIANG MAI — Another scheduled discussion on the junta-sponsored draft charter, this time at a bookstore in Chiang Mai, was cancelled after the military junta said it will not permit the event to proceed tomorrow.
“Book Re:public”, an independent bookstore based in Chiang Mai which holds regular talks on various topics, posted on Facebook today that it regrets being unable to hold the talk due to the military ban.
The bookshop, owned by Rodjaraeg Wattanapanit who became the first Thai named among “International Women of Courage” by the US State Department last month, announced the news on its Facebook page today. They said they were told by soldiers from Kawila Military Base in Chiang province to cancel the talk entitled “Reading the Constitution as Art and Literature” slated for Sunday April 3.
The bookstore provided no reason for why the military junta has decided to ban the event.
“We apologize to those intending to attend the talk,” part of the message on Facebook read, adding that they will continue to strive to create space for public discussion in a democratic society.
Sunai Phasuk , senior Thai researcher at Human Rights Watch, said the National Council for Peace and Order, the formal name of the military junta, has passed the point where its promised Aug 7 referendum on the draft charter can be considered free and fair.
“There’s no element to ensure a democratic and open space for a meaningful referendum. Every action of the junta indicates that the military wants this to be a one-sided [plebiscite] to encourage an approval [of the draft charter].
“From day one since the [May 2014] coup there has been no convincing assurance for a free and fair election,” Sunai added.