A Thai academic at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) has issued an apparent death threat against the author of an article alleging Harvard University’s collaboration with pro-establishment supporters of Thailand’s coup.
In a comment on Facebook regarding Ilya Garger’s ‘Troubles with Thai Studies’ article, microbiologist Peera Hemarajata writes: “I swear that if I saw this MF on the street I’d elbow his middle meningeal artery and leave him dead from epidural hematoma.”
The following was tweeted by journalist Andrew Marshall Wednesday:
— Andrew MacG Marshall (@zenjournalist) August 20, 2014
The article was temporarily removed from the Crimson website this week because of the author’s fears for his personal safety while in Thailand. The following notice appears at the end of the article, which has now been reposted:
This article was temporarily removed from thecrimson.com due to the author’s concerns for his personal safety while in Thailand. We have reposted the article, without changes, now that the author has left that country.
A response article appearing on UCLA’s Daily Bruin website, however, questions the intent of Hemarajata’s apparent threat:
Eugene Volokh, a professor at the UCLA School of Law and an expert in First Amendment rights, said he thinks the comment is unlikely to be seen as a true threat because of its absurdity and because Hemarajata has no history of violence or past relationship with Garger.
The Crimson article and Hemarajat’s response highlight the deep divides in Thai politics and society which have festered since the old establishment reasserted its grip on power through a military coup on May 22:
In its eagerness to secure money for the permanent program, which would include a tenured professorship and expand on lectures and courses introduced in 2012 with Foreign Ministry funding, Harvard has played along with Thai royalists.
Most of the Harvard program’s Thai backers are members of a conservative elite—which includes the aristocracy, generals, and wealthy families—that has dominated the country since the 1950s and rolled back reforms enacted after the absolute monarchy was overthrown in 1932.