Some cases of lèse majesté (Article 112)

Junya Yimprasert
Action for people’s Democracy in Thailand (ACT4DEM)
11 May 2011

As said, hard and fast data is hard to obtain. How many people are under LM surveillance, have cases against them that they do or don’t know about, how many sit in jail without being charged, await trial, or are already convicted nobody knows exactly.

This appendix gives a few mainly headline examples of LM cases, to illustrate how LM is used as a weapon to suppress freedom of speech and democratic movement.

Most of the information here comes from Political Prisoners in Thailand (PPT) and LM Watch. The number of LM cases has risen dramatically since the military coup (‘Palace coup’) of 2006, with the estimates up around 500 cases.

The current spate of LM cases seems to have a starting point in 2001, when two western journalists from the Far Eastern Economic Review were banned from entering

Thailand until their editor apologised – for criticising the Monarchy and the Government, which he did.

Since September 2003, Bundith Arniya, a well-known freelance translator of over 50 books and publications on socialism has been dealing endlessly with police interrogations and court appearances. During 8 years he has been detained 7 times, been beaten, sentenced, jailed and finally, aged 71 and seriously ill, bailed-out for 200,000 Baht by a non-Thai professor. As he has said, no Thai person dared to stand bail for him.

ปกหนังสือ "กษัตริย์ผุ้ไม่เคยยิ้ม"

In 2006 Paul Handley’s ground-breaking book ‘The King Never Smiles’ was published in the USA by Yale University and promptly banned in Thailand.

On 5 December 2006 the tolerance of Oliver Jufer, a 57 year old Swiss man, for all the ‘Love the King’ nonsense snapped. He had been living in Thailand with a Thai wife for 10 years. He was arrested for spraying pictures of the ‘King of Kings’, 5 of the plethora of mega-scale blow-ups that surrounded him and that dominate every single cross-roads and every point of command throughout Thailand. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison. His case was largely ignored by the Thai press, but received much international media attention. He was deported by the police in April 2007.

Thanapol Eiawsakul, Editor of Fa Diew Kan (‘Same Sky’), a printed, quarterly political review, was accused and charged with LM in 2006, and then later again in 2011. Fa Diew Kan was one of the first publications, circulating mainly amongst academics and young intellectuals, to begin contemporary, critical analysis of the role of the monarchy in Thai politics.

NOTE: Thanapol’s case remains, as we say, ‘pending’, as do so many LM cases. Why? Because if an LM case goes to court there must, by royalist convention, be a conviction, and because if a judge decides that the accused did not ‘insult the power of the King’, the judge can himself be accused of insulting the King, and of not protecting the Monarchy etc.

This is the core of the rot in the Thai judicial system, the root-cause of most aspects of the ‘Thai crisis’, the hard-core evidence from the lower courts that ‘democracy under monarchy’ produces only corruption.

2007

Chotisak Onsoong

Chotisak Onsoong and his friend, both student activists in many labour movement activities, were charged, on 5 April 2008, for not standing for the King’s anthem in the cinema in September 2007.

For Chotisak the charge totally changed his life. He could no longer hold a regular job because of the disruptions from police and prosecutors. He suffered all kinds of harassment, but continued to participate in political actions for democracy and distribute alternative books. The U.S. State Department’s annual Human Rights Report for 2008 mentions their case as follows: “They were released without bail; the case was under investigation at year’s end. On April 29 and 30, radio station Metro Life 97 urged listeners to attack Chotisak when he was scheduled to appear at a panel discussion on lese majeste at Thammasat University. The Web site component of the station also posted his personal information, including his address and telephone number.”

Case dropped, April 2012.

Jonathan Head

Several accusations of LM seem to have been filed against Jonathan Head, BBC Bangkok e.g. in April 2008 for remarks made at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand (FCCT) discussion in 2007. He is no longer stationed in South-East Asia.

Case pending.

จักรภพ เพ็ญแข

Jakrapob Penkair

A minister in Thaksin Shinawatra’s government and spokesman for the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), Jakrapob was accused of LM after a talk at an FCCT meeting on 29 August 2007.

Facing arrest he has been in hiding since the military crackdown on the Red Shirt Protest in April 2009.

Facing arrest.

Boonsong Chaisingkanon

A lecturer at Silpakorn University, Boonsong was reported to the Police by members of the Faculty of Arts, in July 2007. After heavy media attention the case was dropped.

Case dropped

2008

Boonyuen Prasertying, 47

Speaking while participating in a Pro-Thaksin rally, Boonyuen Prasertying, 48, was charged with lèse majesté and sentenced to 12 years imprisonment on 6 November 2008. After confession, her sentence was reduced to six years. In mid-November 2009, the Appeals Court reduced it to 2 years. Together with Suwicha Takhor, another LM prisoner, she was released and ‘pardoned’ in June 2010.

Upon release, Boonyuen was taken to the Sirirat Hospital, dressed in a pink’ T-Shirt with the King’s emblem, to sign in a book to verify her love for the King. (Norte: ‘Love the King‘ is code for submission to the absolute power of the Monarchy).

Convicted and jailed, and pardoned after 22 months in jail (November 2008-June 2010).

Begged pardon and released.

Ratchapin Chanjaroen

Accused and charged of not standing for the King’s anthem in the cinema on 15 June 2008.

Case mysteriously disappeared from view.

Sulak Sivaraksa 75,

A royalist and well known social critic and activist, speaking for reform of the Monarchy, was arrested, taken to Khon Kaen Police station and charged with LM on November 2008. A victim of LM in the 1980ies he is out on bail.

Case pending.

Chucheep Chivasut

A radio DJ whose his arrest warrant was issued in August 2008.

The accused has disappeared.

2009

Harry Nicolaides

In January 2009 he was sentenced to 3 years imprisonment for his alleged defaming of the Crown Prince in four lines of his 2005 novel Verisimilitude. Nicolaides was convicted in January 2009, jailed and, after begging pardon, was deported to Australia in February 2009.

Jailed, begged pardon and deported.

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

After being charged for quoting Paul Handley’s book (see above) in his own book – ‘A Coup for the Rich’ (2007), Giles, a declared Marxists and Associate Professor at Chulalonghorn University, jumped bail in February 2009, and went with his wife, who was also being harassed, to live in the UK. A warrant for his arrest was issued in March 2009 and his book was officially banned in Thailand at the end of 2009.

In political exile, Giles and Num continue to campaign for democracy in Thailand. See: http://redthaisocialist.com/

Political exile.

Board of the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand (FCCT)

In June 2009 LM charges were filed against all 13 members of the FCCT Board for distributing a CD of an FCCT discussion with Jakrapob Penkair (See above).

Cases pending.

Daranee Charnchoengsilpakul, 48

In July 2008 Daranee was arrested for publicly denouncing the 2006 military coup, and the Monarchy, during a Red Shirt rally. She is now serving an 18 year prison sentence on 3 counts of lèse majesté. Consistently mistreated, she faces deteriorating health and is in acute need of medical attention.

Serving 18 years, appeal upheld but still in jail.

Suwicha Thakor, 36

Arrested in January 2009, convicted and sentenced to 10 years in jail. He begged pardon and was released June 2010.

Begged pardon and released from jail.

Sondhi Limthongkul

The Leader of the PAD was charged with LM on 22 January 2009 for repeating the words of Daranee Charnchoengsilpakul – while criticizing her. He was released on bail of 300,000 Baht.

This and many other Sondhi cases remain pending.

Chiranuch Premchaiporn

The Prachatai news office was raided by the police on 6 March 2009. Since then Chiranuch, the manager of this on-line news service, has had to manage her defence against a barrage of LM-type charges, but according to Chiranuch the Police have been using the Computer Crime Laws “to avoid international mediaattention regarding lèse majesté”.

Against the background of the heavily self-censoring mainstream media, great numbers of Thai people needed Prachatai.com, one of the only reliable Thai sources of independent news about Thai social movements.

The attractive Prachatai.com chat board was a place where people could share their frustrations about the political madness in Thailand, from the corruption charges against Thaksin in 2005, to the military coup in 2006 and all that followed, Thailand’s growing, critical cyber army made the Prachatai chat board their home, increasingly sharing their frustration over the role of Monarchy in Thai politics.

Chiranuch’s impossible task was to attempt to oversee this chaos of opinions.

Returning from the ‘Internet@Freedom Conference’ in Hungary, in September 2010, Chiranuch was arrested at Bangkok airport.

Immediately many groups sent out messages about her arrest, and she was bailed out within a few hours for 200,000 Baht, but she must now present herself once-a-month at the police station where the case was filed – which is 400 kms from her home On 5 November 2010 the Asian Human Rights Commission launched a campaign page for Chiranuch  http://www.humanrights.asia/campaigns/chiranuch-prachatai

She is now preparing for her defence against sentences totalling around 50 years in prison.

Prachatai remains on-line, but they have been forced to completely shut-down completely their current events Web-Board.

Out on bail, preparing her defence

Kitti Sansukrojwong, 39

Arrested on 4 April 2009 in Khon Kaen for distributing information consider to constitute and LM crime.

Case lost from view.

Thossapornruethai Prasertsung

Arrested on 18 April 2009 at a photocopying shop in Nakhon Ratchasima . . “with several leaflets whose contents is considered offensive to the monarchy and the Privy Council.”

Refused bail – detained.

Kokaew Phikulthong

After a public speech in Chiang Mai, a warrant was issued for his arrest in 21 May 2009, but often the police don’t act against well-known public figures. Kokaew was a well-known UDD leader. Together with 470 Red Shirts leaders and protesters he was jailed on 19 May 2010 for leading a UDD protest rally. After 9 months in prison he was released on bail in February 2011 – together with 8 other UDD leaders.

Case pending.

Pitsanu Promsorn

A UDD leader. Arrest warrant for LM issued in July 2009.

In hiding.

Pisek Sanittangkul

Interrogated by police on 4 July 2009 after being accused of posting information on a chat board.

Denied charges now living in the USA.

Nat Sattayapornpisut, 29

Charged and detained on 16 October 2009 under the Computer Crimes Act for sending ‘offensive’ clips to a blog called ‘StopLeseMajeste’.” He was detained since November 2009 but was released on 19 April 2012.

Begged pardon and released from jail on 19 April 2012.

Thiranan Vipuchanun, Khatha Pachachirayapong, Somjet Itthiworakul, Dr. Thatsaporn Rattanawongsa

Arrested between October to November 2009 for ‘spreading false news about the King’s health’.

All out on bail, cases pending.

Phetwat Wattapongsirikul

A leader of Chiang Mai Red who is having to deal with many charges, one of which is an LM case. He disappeared after the crackdown on Ratchpaprasong in 2010 but reported to police 21 March 2011,

Allowed bail.

Richard Lloyd Parry

The Asia Editor for The Times (London) had complaints brought against him by the Dusit Police Station in Bangkok in November 2009, following a published interview with Thaksin.

2010

Pruay Salty Head

Pruay directs TV advertisements and was active in post comment on the Prachatai.com and Same Sky (We Are All Human) chat boards. After being arrested and interrogated in May 2010 by the Department of special investigations, he discovered he had been monitored since 2008. Twelve DSI police raided his home in late May 2010 and took him and two computers for several hours of interrogation. His computers were returned after two weeks. He sold his house and car, left his job and submitted his case as an asylum seeker at a UNHCR office in Asia. His family is frequently questioned by the DSI as to his whereabouts.

Political exile and in hiding.

Tanthawut Taweewarodomkul, 38

A website designer and father, arrested in April 2010, convicted for LM in February 2011 and jailed for 13 years. He has appealed but has been refused bail.

In prison.

Suriyan Kokpuey, 29

Shoe repairer, convicted of LM and sentenced to 6 years in prison, but had his sentence reduced to 3 years in October 2010 after pleading guilty.

In prison

Papatchanan Ching-in

Arrested, convicted for LM on 16 December 2010 and sentenced to 3 years.

Bailed out and lodging an appeal.

Suchart Nakbangsai / Worawut Thanangkorn, 52

Arrested, convicted for LM and sentenced for six years on 2 November 2010.

In prison.

Wiphat Raksakunthai

A businessman and Red Shirt supporter from Rayong Province, arrested on 29 April 2010. He has denied insulting the King.

Bailed himself out. Case pending.

Kasit Piromya

A Phua Thai Party MP filed an LM case against Kasit, Minister of Foreign Affairs and PAD supporter, in June 2010, but no charges brought by the police.

Kasit is a royalist stalwart.

Ampol Tangnopakul, 61

A worker arrested on 3 August 2010 for ‘sending SMS messages considered offensive to the monarchy and PM’. An old man, he is now in prison and refused bail. He denies the charges, saying the SIM-card used by the police to trace the calls was not his.

In prison. He dies from lung cancer at the Prison Hospital on 8 May 2012.

Tom Dundee

A singer, accused of LM by the royalist-fascist ‘Network of Volunteer Citizens to Protect the Monarch’ after a speech he made at a Red Shirt protest rally in August 2010.

Case pending

Thanapol Bamrungsri, 32

An ordinary Red Shirt businessman, arrested on 13 September 2010 for posting comments regarded as offensive etc., on his own Facebook pages.

Out on bail. Case pending.

Wiset Pichitlamkhen

Arrested in September 2010 on charges of LM by immigration police at Suvarnabhumi Airport while leaving the country.

No further information.

Chanin Khlaikhlung

A Royal Thai Air Force officer, reported to police on 17 November 2010 by fellow officers for outspoken comments on his Facebook pages.

He has been suspended.

2011

Thaksin Shinawatra

In February 2011, the Democrat MP Watchara Petthong filed LM charges against Thaksin Shinawatra, Robert Amsterdam and Thanapol Eawsakul (as Editor of Same Sky / Fa diew Kan) for publication of the Thai version of a White Paper prepared by Amsterdam & Preoff on the royalist crackdown and massacre in Bangkok in April – May 2010.

Case pending.

Robert Amsterdam

February 2011, together with Thaksin Shinawatra (as above).

Case pending.

Surachai Sae Dan

A leader of the Red Siam movement (royalist-communists??) was arrested on 22 February 2011 and detained for speaking freely.

In prison

Akechai Hongkangwarn, 35

Arrested on 11 March 2011 and charged for distributing of 100 CDs of a documentary on LM victims, and distributing photocopies 10 Wikileaks documents.

Out on bail, case pending.

Somyot Pruksakasemsuk

An editor of the Red Power Magazine and a leader of 24 June For Democracy Group was arrested on 30 April at the Aranyaprathet Thai-Cambodia border on his way to Cambodia with his tour group members.

The police claimed that his arrest was due to an article he published in Red Power. Many say the actual reason is due to his active campaigning and organising activities to collect 10,000 signatures calling for an abolition of LM laws.

His request for bail was refused. He is in prison.

Dr. Somsak Jeamthirasakul

A well-known history professor who has been reviewing and sharing many documents on modern Thai history around the relationship of monarchy and military in the Thai politic, especially since the death of King Ananda (Rama VIII).

After the 2006 military coup he has been more active in revealing documents and historical records of the monarchy in Thailand mostly at the Samesky web board (weareallhuman).  He has proposed 8 demands to reform Monarchy – mostly to remove the power of monarchy from interfering in the Thai politic or being used by the elite to take control of the country.

However, since his first public presentation on December 10, 2010, Somsak has faced heavier pressure and immediately after he posted his two open letters to Princess Chulabhorn regarding her interview with Woody on Public TV Channel 9 aired on April 3, he and his wife faced death threats.

He received official notice from the Nang-Loeng Police station to report on 11 May 2011, after The Army Force filed a Lese Majeste case against him.

Sources:

Thai Political Prisoners

LM Watch

Prachatai.com is also a source of info on well-known LM victims.

Thai E-News

Bangkok Post etc.

About Time-up Thailand

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