The Thai Military’s decision to confiscate some lifestyle brochures has drawn pointed remarks from observers on internet forums.
On September 17, 2015 soldiers stopped six people promoting the Falun Gong spiritual practice in northern Thailand. Soldiers detained the group in the Pai district of Mae Hong Son, after discovering pamphlets detailing the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) ongoing persecution against followers of the peaceful meditation practice.
When asked why they were being held, soldiers told them it was because the information could damage the Thai Government’s relationship with the CCP. The group comprised of two Chinese women, a Burmese woman, an Akha woman, and a Thai man and woman. They were carrying more than 600 pamphlets.
The move came as a surprise to local volunteer Wattana Anuraksrithong, because the Supreme Administrative Court of Thailand ruled on August 5 that Falun Gong, a Chinese spiritual practice, is allowed to register a non-profit organization after a 10-year legal battle.
Internet forums quickly slammed the Thai soldiers for trampling on human rights under the direction of the CCP.
“In my view, this is an example of how simple human rights – freedom of speech and freedom of assembly – can be trampled into the dirt,” senior forum member DeepInTheForest told Thai Visa Forum.
“The paranoia of China’s ruling party is being exported to other countries now. The West is certainly not blameless in this regard, either. Ultimately these efforts will fail – they are on the wrong side of history – but in the meantime there will be many, many victims. Please speak up and act for justice, which – after all – is the quickest path to peace whenever possible.”
Another user gave an ironic explanation of the extent of personal freedoms in Thailand.
“Thailand = land of the free … as long as you are rich and are on the right side of the government,” Thai Visa senior member bangkokfrog said.
Anuraksrithong assured soldiers the Falun Gong brochures were legal, but the group was still detained and forced to return to Wattana.
The soldiers said the group would only be returned, once it could be confirmed there was no impact on national peace and order.
All six campaigners have since been released from custody.
Thailand’s military-led government has banned public gatherings since seizing power in 2014.
Falun Gong is a traditional Chinese practice of mind and body, consisting of four standing exercises and a sitting meditation. It also involves assimilating to the universal principles of Truth, Compassion and Tolerance.
The CCP went from supporting and sponsoring Falun Gong to persecuting it in mid-1999, when an official survey revealed nearly twice as many people practiced than the entire membership roll of the CCP. The persecution has resulted in the arbitrary detention, torture, killing and organ harvesting of more than 3858 people in Mainland China.