Opposing the Closure of Channels of Free Communication

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Statement of the Midnight University
Opposing the Closure of Channels of Free Communication

Beginning on Friday September 29th, the Midnight Universitys website has
been blocked by the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), Thailand. However, ours was not the first one to be blocked or tampered with by the power of the Coup Council. The Midnight Universitys considered reaction to the September 19th coup is strong disapproval of such a reckless solution to the nations political problems. Nonetheless, we also realize that it is too late to reverse it and the only way out is to lend a hand in pushing our country back onto the path of democratic development.

The Council for Democratic Reform (CDR) has claimed that this coup is the
beginning of a political reform process which includes the drafting of a new constitution. And yet, the provisions concerning the drafting of a new constitution and political reform in the Provisional Constitution of the CDR do not allow the full and free exercise of political rights and civil liberties by the people, which is the key condition for a successful political reform. Popular participation does not simply mean being selected to sit in a constituent assembly, but also denotes the opportunity for mutual learning and free exchange of ideas. Therefore, an atmosphere of subjection and control by the military under the CDR will rule out any possibility of genuine political reform.

For that reason, the Midnight University held a press conference on
September 28th, to oppose the political reform process as stipulated in the
Provisional Constitution and propose an alternative that would allow for
the full restitution of rights and liberties to the people. To get our point across, we performed a symbolic act of tearing up copies of the Provisional Constitution and posted a report of the said event on the Midnight Universitys website.

Hence, the ICTs immediate imposition of a blockage on our website.

Actually, it is not hard for the Midnight University to overcome this technical difficulty. We have indeed received various offers from foreign servers to host our website. Be that as it may, we are of the opinion that the problem of availability of a public space is not technical in nature, but essentially political. And it has arisen because the self-proclaimed Council for Democratic Reform has used its coup-begotten power to impose a blockage on public space. Therefore, we need to fight this illegitimate power together right here in this land rather than evade it and find a new public space elsewhere.

As the Midnight University has earlier warned, political reform couldnt be
realized in an atmosphere shorn of peoples rights and liberties. That the Coup Council has thoughtlessly closed down websites that expressed dissenting views on the coup shows that it is incapable of leading a political reform that is free and equally open to all. To bring this power to an end peacefully, Thai society must not submit to it. Instead, we should together pressure it to stop the violation of peoples rights and liberties at once.

It is true that, given freedom, there will be some who would exploit it to try to destroy or disrupt political reform. And yet, only the full exercise of rights and liberties can enlighten and empower a society to fight the lies and half-truths of corrupt politicians seeking a return to power. On the contrary, a society whose learning and communication is kept under tutelage will remain weak and unable to resist them.

In place of an arbitrary and selective censorship based on a subjective feeling of distrust and animosity of the censors, the complete and indiscriminate opening of all channels of communication will result in a free, fair and predictable rule of the game for all, thus rectifying the arbitrary, unchecked and uncontrolled exercise of power that is a major weakness of all coup-makers. By guaranteeing the equal rights and liberties of the people to information, the Coup Council will be able to tap into the real source of power far greater than whatever it can get from its illegitimate coup.

The Midnight University
30 September 2006