Contact Political Prisoners in Thailand: email@example.com
POLITICAL PRISONERS IN THAILAND (PPT) is dedicated to those who are held in Thailand’s prisons, charged with political crimes. It also seeks to raise the cases of those who are accused of political crimes. Our focus is the contemporary period where political cases revolve around the use of Thailand’s lese majeste law and, increasingly, the Computer Crimes Act.
The authors of this blog are friends of Thailand who oppose the jailing of opponents for political reasons. We support the expansion of free speech in Thailand. Because this blog will include material that would be banned in Thailand, we choose to remain anonymous. We are also limiting postings to in English or English/Thai as we believe that this is one way to raise the international profile of the issues.
While this is a blog in format, we have chosen to operate without comments. In effect, the blog is a website of record on existing cases and, as far as possible, for previous cases. It also posts related comments regarding political events related to broader human rights issues and the struggles to define democratic progress in Thailand.
We welcome serious contributions to Political Prisoners in Thailand. This can be done by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Not all contributions will necessarily be accepted.
Thailand has had a checkered political history since its first steps towards democratic forms of government in 1932, when the absolute monarchy was overthrown. Since that time, there have been numerous cases of politically motivated arrests, jailings and murders.
As Thailand’s politics became more vigorous and divided following the 2006 military coup, arrests and imprisoning through accusations of lese majeste and acts against “national security” have become increasingly common. Lese majeste and the Computer Crimes Act are used by governments and political figures to denounce opponents and to protect privileges and positions. We are deeply concerned and alarmed regarding the political uses of lese majeste and other repressive laws in Thailand. Specifically, we were troubled by the vigorous pursuit of lese majeste cases and so-called computer crimes by the Democrat Party-led coalition government that came to power, with military and palace backing, in December 2008.
Lese majeste is defined as: “anyone who defames, insults or threatens the king, the queen, the crown prince or the regent” (Article 112 of the Thai penal code). While the lese majeste law has been criticized for many years as “draconian,” the Democrat Party proposes to further strengthen the law and accelerate on-going investigations and prosecutions of those accused of lese majeste.
The Democrat Party-led government of 2008-11 rapidly expanded censorship, blocked tens of thousands of web pages it considered offensive to the monarchy and presided over hundreds of new charges and arrests. All of this in the defense of some ill-defined notion of “national security.” By late 2010, there likely to have been some 350 jailed following lese majeste convictions or related computer crimes charges. The persons involved – accused, charged and sentenced – are journalists, bloggers, academics, authors, political and social activists and average Thais. A number of foreigners were also been charged and jailed.
Various Thai governments have made the point that the monarchy should be untouchable and that it is universally admired and revered by all Thais. The massive expansion of censorship and state vigilance showed this claim of universal reverence as patently false.
The advent of an elected Puea Thai Party government in July 2011 has seen a decline in lese majeste accusations, charges and arrests. However, while there remain charges and people imprisoned, PPT will continue to shine an international light on the political use of these laws. International scrutiny of these cases is urgently required to ensure the protection of human rights and freedom of expression.
Originally 26 January 2009 (updated 1 November 2009, 13 August 2011, 18 October 2012)