A leading academic and long-time conservative critic of the lèse majesté, the 75-year-old Sulak Sivaraksa was taken from his Bangkok home late one night in November 2008 and driven 450 km (280 miles) to a police station in the northeast province of Khon Kaen. There, he was questioned on accusations of insulting the monarchy in a university lecture he gave in December 2007.
This is Sulak’s third lese majeste case. He was arrested in 1984 in Bangkok and charged with insulting the king; the case was later withdrawn following an international campaign. In 1991 he was again charged after giving a speech at Chulalongkorn University where he attacked military rule. Sulak fought the case until he won, in 1995. Other allegations were made against Sulak in 2006.
Sulak claims that on 26 March 2009 he had “petitioned the permanent secretary of the Prime Minister’s Office for justice and urged the authorities to drop his charge, saying a Cabinet minister had told him the premier was aware of his case and would have his case dropped by Songkran Day, April 13.” That didn’t happen.
Sulak claimed that his case going forward and the expiration of his bail on 4 May was a part of a plot by the police against the government of Abhisit Vejjajiva. Sulak has “denied the charge and insisted that he was a true royalist who believed in the need to honestly offer critical views and dissent so the monarchy could review itself from time to time.” This has been Sulak’s long-standing defense against the various lèse majesté he has faced over the past three decades.
Sulak has taken a partisan approach to the law, claiming that the law should be used against those who do not have the interests of the monarchy at heart. PPT believes that all uses of lèse majesté are necessarily political and should be rejected and the law abolished. We deplore all applications of the law.
We understand that this case has been quietly dropped. Sulak has been reported as saying that this was because of the king’s personal intervention. Others state that it was a government committee that dropped the case.
As PPT understands it, dropping the case doesn’t mean it can’t be reactivated at a later date.
Commentary on Sulak’s cases:
Sulak’s own webpage has commentary and a support letter: Sulak’s personal web page. His Loyalty Demands Dissent web page is also useful and outlines other efforts to silence Sulak. For the 2006 allegations, see letters at “Stopping the Persecution” and Asia Times Online, 20 May 2006: “Lese majeste laws on trial in Thailand”.
For background on Sulak and his life: Biography
News on Sulak Sivaraksa’s case:
Thailand Mirror, 6 July 2011: “Don’t cry for me Thailand: Pravit Rojanaphruk”
Prachatai, 19 May 2009: “Sulak Sivaraksa reports to court on lèse majesté charge, blames Thaksin”; ภาษาไทย ดู ประชาไท, “ส.ศิวรักษ์รายงานตัวต่อศาลคดีหมิ่นสถาบัน อ้างทักษิณแกล้งผม”
The Nation, 3 May 2009: “Sulak could find himself behind bars”
The Earth Times, 11 February 2009: “Social critic urges Thai premier to act on lese majeste”.
Bangkok Post, 8 November 2008, “Politics behind Sulak’s arrest, says lawyer”
National News Bureau of Thailand, “Famous writer Sor Sivarak arrested”
Sulak Sivaraksa on lese majeste:
Bangkok Post, 12 November 2008, “Institution of Monarchy and Lese Majeste”
BBC News, 7 November 2008, “Thai arrest over ‘royal insult’”