American scholar in Khon Kaen loses job, visa revoked

American scholar in Khon Kaen loses job, visa revoked

35-year resident David Streckfuss well known in Isan activist community, published internationally

Khon Kaen University (KKU) has terminated its employment contract with a well-known American scholar who has been in Thailand for more than 30 years, resulting in his visa being revoked immediately.

Thai media reported on Friday that David Streckfuss, an international coordinator of Khon Kaen-based The Isaan Record and director of the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) Khon Kaen since 1994, had had his contract terminated on Feb 18. As a result, his visa was revoked on March 18

In a copy of the termination letter shown by Prachatai, the KKU Faculty of Public Health cited “inability to perform assigned duties” as the reason for ending his contract as project director before its Aug 15 renewal date.

Shortly before receiving the notification, Mr Streckfuss had attended a meeting on Isan identity, where he and several activists participated in a talk on decentralisation.

After the meeting, police reportedly came to the university to meet with its rector and deans.

Mr Streckfuss wrote for the Bangkok Post in 2013-14. He has also been published in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. He is also the author of Truth on Trial in Thailand: Defamation, Treason, and Lèse-Majesté, published by Routledge Press, in 2011. 

He has a PhD in Southeast Asian history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 

The Isaan Record is a website focusing on social, political and environmental issues in the northeastern region of Thailand.

Local media reported that The Isaan Record was now attempting to secure a visa and work permit for Mr Streckfuss so that he could remain in the country.

Thailand recently was ranked the fifth-lowest among 144 countries worldwide in the Academic Freedom Index, compiled by the Germany-based Global Public Policy Institute (GPPi) and the Scholars at Risk Network. It drew on expert opinion to gauge performance in areas such as freedom to research and teach, freedom of academic exchange and dissemination, institutional autonomy, campus integrity, and freedom of academic and cultural expression.

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