According to the independent online newspaper Prachatai English, the silent reading protests started on 27 May and have been ongoing, with people gathering in groups of four to read in silence at various locations in Bangkok, including the pedestrian flyovers around the Skytrain stations.
The Prachatai post reports that people have been reading books such as George Orwell’s 1984, and Noli Me Tangere by Filipino revolutionary writer Jose Rizal.
Photos from the Prachatai site, reproduced above, show Thais of different ages taking part in the protest.
Martial law, declared by the military in Thailand on 20 May 2014, bans more than five people from gathering together for political purposes.
Silent reading strikes me as a simple but profound way to oppose a repressive regime. It embraces intellectual freedom in the face of arbitrary detentions. It supports the right to education in defiance of forces that would keep people ignorant. It celebrates the free flow of information during a time of brutal censorship.
And it does all this in a way that is legal and peaceful.
I salute the bravery of those involved in this creative and profound protest. I’d like to think I’d have the courage to join you on the pedestrian walkways if I was in Bangkok right now. I’d be the one reading The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood…
What about you? What book would you take if you were joining the silent reading protest in Bangkok?