NEW YORKPEN American Center, the largest branch of the worldwide organization of writers united to promote freedom of expression, expressed its alarm at reports that Thai military leaders have targeted scholars and writers in their crackdown on freedom of expression. Such reports would mark a serious escalation of already grave infringements on freedom of expression in the context of the army takeover of Thailand. PEN has documented reports of suspensions of media outlets and platforms, shutdowns of websites, interference with the role of the news media in covering breaking events in Thailand, and censorship of social media and other dispatches that are considered critical of the military. The pinpointing of individual scholars and writers who are being asked to turn themselves in to the military is of profound concern. The safety, liberty and human rights of these individuals must be protected.

PEN American Center calls upon the Thai military to immediately rescind its order for individual writers and scholars to turn themselves in, and to end all restrictions on freedom of expression and media freedom. Harassment, intimidation, and efforts to interfere with the freedom of journalists, editors, and news outlets to report the news and communicate viewpoints should cease immediately. Peaceful resolution of the conflicts in Thailand will depend upon full respect of human rights and the rule of law.

“These new reports of scholars and writers being called in signal a dangerous worsening of the political climate in Thailand,” said PEN American Executive Director Suzanne Nossel. “In a fluid and highly volatile environment, Thais depend upon journalists, writers, analysts, and news outlets to share information, interpret events, and allow that society to shape its future. By interfering so brazenly with this vital role, the Thai military raises serious questions about its own motives and intentions, and sounds an alarm bell about Thailand’s future under military rule.”

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Founded in 1922, PEN American Center is an association of 3,500 American writers working to break down barriers to free expression worldwide.

Contact Sarah Edkins 212.334.1660 x 116; sedkins@pen.org