Several years ago I used to watch from a guarded out-of-the-way position as Saudi Arabia’s renown Mutawwa (religious police) went around patrolling public places to ensure that virtue and vice were kept in proper proportions. These people have the authority to make instant arrests, confiscate your I.D. and anything else, and put you in prison.
That was Saudi Arabia. We might expect such damnable behavior from a country that is probably 99% Muslim (not by choice in many instances), But what is happening in Thailand where you can’t even wear a shirt with a message on it, read a book in public or give a Boy Scout salute without being arrested, interrogated and forced to sign a release that is a criminal nondisclosure agreement?
On 22 May 2014 the Thai military bypassed provisions of the then current constitution, promulgated in 2007, by declaring Martial Law over the entire kingdom. At that time the constitution had provided for only the king to do this. As head of the country’s armed forces, one would have thought that he would have been consulted beforehand about the coup that followed shortly after, but apparently was not. According to reports, the coup leader merely indicated later in public that he had sent the king a notice informing him of the coup and the necessity for it.
In the aftermath of the tiresome one coup after another syndrome that Thailand has spread out in its historical annals, today, 21st century, 23 June 2014 in Thailand it is illegal to do the following:
- Issue any public indication opposing or criticizing the coup.
- Eating sandwiches in public.
- Sporting clothing with messages that might be deemed offensive to the coup leaders. Individuals who were so arrested were wearing shirts with messages such as “Peace Now,” and “Respect my vote.”
- Reading books in public that are titled with Orwellian dates.
Now, an awful lot of Thai people, at home and abroad, would rather watch you and I be stripped down and skinned alive than allow us to voice opinions on not just “the” sensitive subject but any subject that is deemed by them to indicate some sort of opposition to the coup and its objectives. These fascist Thais are highly indignant, easily angered, largely ignorant and overly-indoctrinated, and unknown to themselves, apparently, bear no resemblance to Buddhists.
Buddhists would never allow themselves to belittle others, to oppress and coerce fellow human beings, to force innocent people to accept unwelcome invitations and then to sign warnings of arrest if they report what kind of brainwashing they were subject to. Buddhists would not wish ill of others, or worse, to commit ill will against the vast majority of people whose main desire is to live in peace and to make personal choices that rest upon free will.
Buddhists would not lie about not violating human rights and then minute after minute violate them against man, woman, and child. Buddhists would not commit malice against men and women better than themselves who understand what it means to think, and are now learning that the price of being able to think, of have the pen right to think and to express free opinion, is very high indeed.
The great mission before the people of Thailand at the moment has nothing to do with reforming wayward souls to restore their attitude back to ancient ways. That is the wrong path. The right path is to learn to get along, not force to go along. The right path is to understand that others are not the same as you, and that you have no right on the face of this earth to determine for others what they think, and certainly, no right in the universe to put them in prison because they have offended your sensitivities.