Thai military junta arrest man silently reading George Orwell's 1984 in Bangkok

By Ned Kelly, June 23, 2014

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"He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past. He who controls the shopping malls controls the present."

Police arrested eight people on Sunday for demonstrating against Thailand's military junta, including a man who was dragged away by undercover officers for reading a copy of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, report the Bangkok Post.

The arrest was the first known case of anyone being detained for reading as a form of protest since the military seized power last month.

Handfuls of anti-coup protesters have staged several silent readings of the classic book elsewhere in the capital in recent weeks because they say its indictment of totalitarianism has become relevant after the army deposed the country's elected government in a May 22 coup.

A police officer said all the arrests took place in and around Siam Paragon, a crowded, upscale mall in downtown Bangkok that is one of Southeast Asia's largest

The military council that took power May 22 has been the toughest post-coup regime in Thailand in more than four decades, summoning more than 300 people perceived as threats to public order - including members of the ousted civilian government, activists and intellectuals - to elicit pledges not to instigate unrest.

The most recent of Thailand’s 12 successful coups were in 1976, 1977, 1991 and 2006.

Those seen as hotheads are detained without trial for up to a week, to give them time to cool off and consider the situation, the army says.

But hey, who needs freedom when you get free cinema tickets in return for supporting the military coup.

(But not, strangely, to screenings of Nineteen Eighty-Four.)

[h/t Tom Peto]

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