An Open Letter on Lese Majeste Law in Thailand

22 06 2011

To: Ambassadors of Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States of America, and Head of Delegation of the European Union.

June 10, 2011

Dear Mr/Madam Ambassadors,

This letter is an appeal on behalf of the people in Thailand who have been suffering from the suppressive and violent measures imposed by the upper social, military and judiciary echelons. In addition to state-military brutality which resulted in 92 deaths and thousands injured during April-May 2010, the ruling regime continues to instill fear, harass and arrest people simply because their writing and speech are seen as detrimental to the interests of these elites and their political position.

In their obvious contempt for the value of human life and peace, the ruling regime has shown little regard for constitutional freedoms, judicial fairness in decision-making and in human rights. Some public voices have been raised against the arrests of academics and well-known people, but many more cases involve ordinary people who do not have the privilege to receive domestic and international attention to their plight.

Seemingly, putting people behind bars for spurious reasons is carried out in the name of law. But the legal action in fact serves either as a pretext to intimidate people into submission or as a disguised device of authoritarian politics. In the name of lèse-majesté law (Section 112 of the criminal code) and of the Computer Crime Act of 2007 together with some other criminal charges, basic human rights as well as the fundamental codes of decency have been abused and violated the rights of the general public. Since the 2006 coup, there has been an unprecedented increase in the number of lèse-majesté cases.

The number has jumped from an average of less than five cases per year prior to the coup on the 16 September 2006 to 126 in 2007 to more than 220 people at the present time – the highest ever since the law came into force.

The intimidation of academics, social activists, as well as countless ordinary citizens, is symptomatic of a broader set of despotic practices which gravely threaten the exercise of rights and the future of democracy in Thailand. Based on such deteriorating situation, we would humbly ask Your Excellency to support our concerns and relay the attached information to your democratic governments.

In order to prevent further abuses of human rights and damage to the international reputation of Thailand, we request that your government send an urgent appeal to the Thai Government as follows:

1.      The reform of the lèse-majesté law.

2.      Pending the reform, the Thai Government is morally obliged to suspend for the time being the use of the current lèse-majesté law and the Computer Act in connection to the lèse-majesté charge.

3.      The Thai Government must take action to withdraw the current lèse-majesté charges against ordinary people and political opposition, and work to secure the immediate release of those already convicted in a secret court hearing under the lèse-majesté law.

We, the undersigned, sincerely hope that your country with its utmost respect for democracy, human rights, freedom and integrity, will try every possible means to help stop the further violation of human rights and encourage the return of the democratic process and liberty in Thailand.

Yours sincerely,

The Santiprachadham Network

Nitirassadorn (Enlightened Jurists

Apichart Satitniramai, Ph.D., Assoc. Prof.     Faculty of Economics, Thammasat University

Charnvit Kasetsiri, Ph.D., Former Rector of Thammasat University

Chaiyan Rajchagool, Ph.D., Assoc. Prof., Institute for Religion, Culture and Peace, Payap University

David Streckfuss, Ph.D., The CIEE Research and Development Institute, Khon Kaen University

Kasem Phenpinant, Ph.D., Asst. Prof., Department of Philosophy, Chulalongkorn University

Krittiya Archawanitkul, Ph.D., Assoc.Prof.   Institute for Population and Social Studies, Mahidol University

Niti Pawakapan, Ph.D., Asst Prof., Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University

Prajak Kongkirati, Lecturer, Faculty of Political Science, Thammasat University

Pinkaew Luengaramsri, Ph.D., Faculty of Social Science, Chiangmai University

Puangthong Pawakapan, Ph.D., Asst. Prof.   Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University

Saksinee Emasiri Thanakulmas, Researcher, Project for the Estabishment of thInstitute for Human Rights and Peace Studies, Mahidol University

Sriprapha Petcharasmesree, Ph.D., Center of Human Rights Studies and Social Development, Madidol University

Thanet Apornsuwan, Ph.D., Professor, Pridi Banomyong International College, Thammasat University

Thongchai Winichakul, Ph.D., Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Ubonrat Siriyuvasak, Ph.D., Assoc. Prof., Professor Emeritus Chulalongkorn University, Independent academic

Viengrat Nethipo, Asst. Prof., Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University

Yukti Mukdawichit, Ph.D., Asst. Prof., Faculty of Sociology and Anthropology, Thammasat University





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