Reporters Without Borders (4 December 2009: “King asked to pardon Internet users prosecuted on lese majeste or national security charges”) reports that the organization has written to the king “asking him to pardon Thai Internet users who are in jail or who are being prosecuted in connection with the dissident views they allegedly expressed online.”
RWB argues that by “agreeing to this request, the king would show the entire world that he respects freedom of expression and would be putting in to practice what he said on 5 December 2005 about protecting this freedom…”.
The letter mentions Suwicha Thakor, a blogger who is imprisoned, and says he is “neither a politician nor an activist, and never criticised the king or posted articles about him.” Further, RWB says Suwicha is an “innocent man who has already suffered too much…”.
The letter asks the king to” intercede to obtain the withdrawal of all charges” against several Internet users: Giles Ji Ungpakorn, Jonathan Head, Nat Sattayapornpisut, the royal health rumor 4, and Praya Pichai, “a blogger who was accused in September 2007 of criticising the royal family. The public prosecutor has until 2017 to decide whether or not to prosecute him, which is unacceptable from the viewpoint of both the right of defence and the right to free expression.” RWB could easily have mentioned several other cases (see PPT’s pages on convicted and pending cases).
RWB states: “We hope that King Bhumibol Adulyadej will respond positively to this request for a royal pardon…. By violating the freedom of expression of Thailand’s citizens, charges of lese majeste and endangering national security under the 2007 Computer Crime Act are hurting the image of both the king and his kingdom.”
PPT very much appreciates RWB attempts to once again highlight these injustices. At the same time, we have not seen any evidence that anyone in the palace seriously supports freedom of expression.
Meanwhile, it looks like the designated defenders of the monarchy in the current Abhisit Vejjajiva-led government might be calling for mercy too. If PPT readers haven’t seen it already, read this story in the Bangkok Post and then read Bangkok Pundit’s comment on it here. It looks suspiciously like someone in government is going to have to wear a lese majeste charge.
It must be exceptionally difficult for officials to monitor the tens of thousands of anti-monarchy websites and other threats to “national security” and to keep up with all the propaganda sites and activities they have on their plates. Potentially dangerous work if a mistake is made.