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Forum LockedLèse majesté

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Poll Question: I heard Abhisit, Prem, Sondhi & Chamlong insult The King.
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Paul View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Paul Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Lèse majesté
    Posted: 06-Apr-2009 at 23:32
Lèse majesté means injury to majesty, the law still exists in a few countries as nothing more than an anachronism. However in Thailand over the last few years the law has made a comeback with avengeance. The lèse majesté law in Thailand has always received at least a semi serious nod due to the demigod status of the king, but rarely used and mostly against persistant perceived critics of the regime, such social critic Sulak Sivaraksa 20 years ago who eventually was found innocent.
 
However since the military coup and the rise of the ultra rightwing PAD movement internationally notorious for the airport protest the lèse majesté laws have developed a new lease of life. In the last copule of years the laws have been liberally used to suppress freedom of speech, eliminate democratic opponents to the new unelected regime and to create a public witch hunt, where neighbour spies on neighbour.

 

Thai law is anyone can accuse anyone else of lèse majesté. The media are not allowed to report lèse majesté cases so victims of the law have little recourse and the penalty is up to 20 years in prison. This make the law the perfect way to eliminate political opponents. When arrested the accused are routinely not given access to a lawyer while being questioned and in a Kafkaeque way people are often not told how they actually violated the law just that they have and have.

 

Recent victims of the law include former prime minister in exile Taksin Shinawat, Chulalongkorn lecturer Ji Ungpakorn who wrote a book criticising the military coup and fled to Britain last month, the editor of Prachatai Thailand’s only independent news service http://www.prachatai.com/english/, Recently Red Shirt activist Kitti Saensukrotewong was arrested for lèse majesté his crime distributing UDD (pro democracy) literature. Others awaiting trial or jailed have simply criticised the recent coup. With reporting of people accused illegal it’s difficult to get information.

 

Intimidation hasn’t just been limited to Thai nationals and foreign writers. The Economist magazine was first to fall foul with its correspondents not being allowed into the country, CNN in Thailand also suppressed reports of the Harry Nicolaides story for fears its reporters would be arrested, finally even Amnesty International refuses to help Lèse majesté prisoners fearing arrest for its workers in the country.

 

The rise of the law being utilised as a method of political persecution is being promoted hand in hand with a new civil witch hunt. Recently the Thai government opened a website where anyone can anonymously accuse any other person of lèse majesté. Australian writer Harry Nicolaides’s jailing was the most famous international case, his book which had a fictional Thai prince as a character and only sold 4 copies had been cleared by the Thai ministry of culture before release, Harry well aware of Thai laws wanted to be safe. On top of this other pending prosecutions include people for visiting internet sites and one man for failing to stand for the national anthem at the cinema who faces 20 years in prison.

 

The Internet

In 1995 Lech Tomasz Kisielewicz allegedy made a derogatory statement about a Thai Princess on an aircraft in international airspace. Upon arrival in Thailand he was arrested and jailed for two weeks before being released. Though 10 years ago before the recent wave of paranoia, this case is significant because, in the 90's in response to the US passing a law, US law is law in every country Thailand followed suit, so if a British national exercises his right to freedom of speech in Britain then holidays in Thailand he can legally be prosecuted in Thailand for what he said in Britain. In April 2009 Suwicha Thakho was jailed for 10 years for posting an ‘altered’ image of the king on YouTube. 

 

April 2009 Visa Application Law Change

  

As of April 2009 Thailand has passed a law that any foreigner applying for a visa to Thailand must disclose any websites they have an interest in, blogs or other sites they contribute to,  presumably so they can be arrested upon arrival if one violates the lèse majesté law.

 

So if any member of this forum is thinking of visiting Thailand I’d give it a miss, and if you write on the visa app you are active on this site, the fact this post is on here alone should get you at least ten years.



Edited by Paul - 07-Apr-2009 at 11:12
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Voskhod Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Apr-2009 at 10:41
The PAD is a bunch of undemocratic, zealous nationalists. In trying to further their own agenda they've further divided the country. In Thailand, PAD supporters wear yellow - the colour of the Monarchy (the other side - the so-called "traitors" - wear red).

(Edit: usually foreigners convicted of Lese Majeste quickly receive a royal pardon as was the case of a Melbourne man sentenced early this year. Thai nationals are not so lucky.)


Edited by Voskhod - 07-Apr-2009 at 10:43
"All the true heroes of history will be forgotten and all the villains will be remembered as heroes."
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Paul Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Apr-2009 at 14:30
List of cases from Reuters
 

JAKRAPOB PENKAIR - A spokesman for ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Jakrapob had to resign as a minister in the pro-Thaksin government in May after being accused of slandering the king in a talk at Bangkok's Foreign Correspondents' Club.

JONATHAN HEAD - The British BBC correspondent in Bangkok has received three lese majeste complaints. One was related to an online BBC story not written by Head which did not place the photograph of the king at the top of the page, as is customary in Thailand.

CHOTISAK ONSOONG - The young political activist was accused by police in April of insulting the monarchy for refusing to stand during the royal anthem that precedes all movie screenings in Thailand.

JITRA KOTCHADEJ - A union activist and friend of Chotisak, Jitra was fired by bosses at her clothing factory in August for appearing on a TV panel discussion wearing a T-shirt saying "Not standing is not a crime," a reference to Chotisak.

It is not known if she has been charged by police.

SULAK SIVARAKSA - A leading academic and long-time critic of the lese majeste law, the 75-year-old was taken from his Bangkok home late one night in November and driven 450 km (280 miles) to a police station in the northeast province of Khon Kaen.

There, he was charged with insulting the monarchy in a university lecture he gave in December the previous year.

HARRY NICOLAIDES - An Australian author, English teacher and long-time resident of Thailand, Nicolaides was sentenced to three years in jail this week for defaming the crown prince in his 2005 novel, 'Verisimilitude'. Only seven copies of the book were sold.

DARUNEE CHARNCHOENGSILPAKUL - More commonly known as "Da Torpedo," the pro-Thaksin campaigner was arrested in July after delivering an exceptionally strong 30-minute speech denouncing the 2006 coup and the monarchy.

She is thought still to be behind bars, although it is not known if she has been formally charged.

SUWICHA THAKHOR - Suwicha was arrested last week on suspicion of posting comments on the Internet that insulted the monarchy. His arrest coincided with a speech by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva saying the law should not be abused.

OLIVER JUFER - The Swiss national was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2007 for spraying black paint on huge public portraits of King Bhumibol Adulyadej. He was pardoned and deported after serving four months.

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Post Options Post Options   Quote cahaya Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Apr-2009 at 07:26
So Paul.. you too have to be careful in giving any comment related Thai's Royal ? or else we all will end up in jail ?

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Post Options Post Options   Quote Paul Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18-Apr-2009 at 00:35
I forgot to mention the Thai Lese Majeste law doesn't just coevr the Thai king but any head of state. So you criticise the emperor of Japan it's the same . This means any America who in America criticises the US president then goes to Thailand on holidays is guilty of Lese Majeste and could ligitinately be jailed for up to 20 years. Fortunately the UK having a Prime Minister I can shout Gordon Brown is a dick from the rooftop of a Thai Police station.
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