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Searching for the Missing Freedom

by Yu-Kyung Lee, Bangkok(Thailand), 07 March 2013


Once upon a time, Thailand was a frontrunner (if not a ‘champion’) of freedom of expression and freedom of press in the region. It has witnessed, however, deteriorating freedom standard thus missing freedom over the past decade, particularly during the years of political crisis, which has not been extinguished yet. The country has ranked 153 out of 178 countries in 2010 for instance, according to the ‘Press Freedom Index’ issued by Reporters Sans Frontier (or RSF).

(Reminder : Thailand has enjoyed its rank at 59 out of 167 countries in 2004 to the same index by RSF. Its rank has been dramatically downgraded afterwards. And most of the time it has been behind neighboring Cambodia as well as Malaysia)

On one hand, self-censorship has become part of routine practice among media personnel and fear among grass roots choosing not to speak out has been prevailed. On the other hand, for a desperate bid to search for the missing freedom, a slow but gradual tendency has been also developed so that people have expressed their thoughts on sensitive issues, including lèse-majesté (or 112), which is considered to be misused targeting political opponents.

‘People Art for Freedom’ was one such attempt by several artists who have exhibited their works in collective. The exhibition was dedicated to Freedom and Awareness ; Freedom of a number of political prisoners, primarily including those in jailed for lèse-majesté, as well as of our own is being main focused in the event. The exhibition had taken place from Feb 21 till 28, 2013 at the Pridi Banomyong Institute at Sukhumvit soi 55 in Bangkok, Thailand. A dozen pictures from the exhibition collected.


Ms.Sukanya Pruksakasemsuk (aka Joop Joop Joop), a wife of Somyot Pruksakasemsuk who's sentenced 10 years for lèse-majesté (+ 1 more year), addressing at the opening ceremony.   @ People Art for Freedom / Bangkok, Thailand 2013

: ‘Try Arm’ is both sarcastic term of multinational underwear company Triumph and alternative brand for ‘fair trade fashion’. It is launched by Triumph Thailand  labor union, which leaders were fired by the company years ago. The labor movement has actively involved in a campaign for freedom of expression having supported political prisoners in Thailand.  @ People Art for Freedom / Bangkok, Thailand 2013 

Thousands photos mosaic on Canvas.
(Artist : Karnt Thassanaphak) @ People Art for Freedom / Bangkok, Thailand 2013 

Thousands photos mosaic on Canvas.
(Artist : Karnt Thassanaphak) @ People Art for Freedom / Bangkok, Thailand 2013 

Thousands photos mosaic on Canvas.
(Artist : Karnt Thassanaphak) @ People Art for Freedom / Bangkok, Thailand 2013 

This work describes many aspects, among which is a tragic event of 'October 6 1976'. In it students activists, who were protesting against the return of former military dictator named Thanom Kittikachorn, were accused of being 'communists' and were massacred on the campus of Tammassat University in Bangkok. The event has driven thousands of students to jungle forests joining guerrilla movement of Communist Party of Thailand (or CPT).  (Artist : Sitthiphorn Anthawonksa) @ People Art for Freedom / Bangkok, Thailand 2013

Pridi Banomyong, a founder of Tammasat University, is a ‘revolutionary’ figure in Thai history. His initiative has led to replace absolute monarchy with constitutional monarchy. He also had involved in anti-Japanese resistance called Free Thai Movement during the World War II. The number '2475' is revolutionary year of 1932 in Thai calendar, when absolute monarchy collapsed.
@ People Art for Freedom / Bangkok, Thailand 2013 

Amphon Tangnoppaku (aka 'Uncle SMS'), who's sentenced 20 years for sending 4 sms deemed to insult royal family, died out while in jail in 2012. @ People Art for Freedom / Bangkok, Thailand 2013

All Photos by Yu-Kyung Lee
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