Lese majeste and Facebook

3 07 2010

The Bangkok Post warns that the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime is continuing its lese majeste witch hunting activities, including monitoring social networking sites.

The Post report refers to Wiphat Raksakunthai/Wipas Raksakulthai, a 37-year-old businessman based in Rayong, who has been detained at the Bangkok Remand Prison for 2 months, refused bail, having been the first member of the social networking site Facebook accused of lese majeste.

Wipas is said to be a supporter of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) and had left public political comments on his Facebook page. The Post reports that royalist Facebook users have been “unsocial,” criticizing him and “ sharing his personal information and contacts they acquired from his profile pages.” These royalists urge each other to report lese majeste cases to the police.

Media reform activist Supinya Klangnarong “says the Wipas case reflects an expansion of the government’s crackdown on online political dissidents, from content-based public websites into social networks.” She says the “case further escalates the climate of fear among internet users…”. She predicts more arrests.

PPT points out that there is no transparency on lese majeste and the number of cases, convictions and imprisonments remains unclear. News reports on such cases are sparse on details. When Wipas’ bail was refused, Prachatai reported it, but other coverage was limited. Prachatai noted that “on 28 June, despite his lawyer’s opposition, the court extended his detention to 10 July at the request of the public prosecutor who has received the case from the DSI. His family has twice asked for bail, offering bank accounts with 500,000 and 1,000,000 baht, but the court has refused, claiming that his offence was against the monarchy which is revered by the people and that the accused might flee.”

Note that DSI is handling all political cases.

Even when the state maintains draconian laws on lese majeste and computer crimes, under the current emergency laws, “the state more power to control dissidents, and also to hunt them [suspects] down. These include a new online crime agency that will go after violators of the lese majeste law and a so-called online scout network that encourages users to monitor violators of this and other laws…”. Supinya warns that: “Even when users opt to use fake identities, the police may be able to find ways to get them by other means…”.

Welcome to 1984 in 2010 Thailand.



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