CPJ on Somyos and lese majeste

29 07 2011

As PPT posted a few days ago, activist red shirt Somyos Pruksakasemsuk is now facing the courts on lese majeste charges after being held in custody and without bail for almost 3 months.

In a recent alert, the Committee to Protect Journalists has stated that it “is gravely concerned by the anti-royal charges” filed against Somyos. The CPJ says that if he is found guilty, “the journalist … will face a possible 30 years in prison.”

Such crazy sentences may gladden the hearts of royalist extremists like Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha. However, PPT is sure that such obsolete laws demonstrate the failure of the propaganda that supports a crumbling royalist ancien regime. The CPJ notes that lese majeste has “been abused for political purposes during the country’s protracted political conflict.” That’s true, but this conflict is very much a part of the process of royalist decay.

The CPJ states: “We call on the relevant Thai authorities to release Somyot Prueksakasemsuk and to drop the anti-royal charges filed against him…. The growing official use of lese majeste charges to stifle free expression has greatly undermined Thailand’s democratic credentials and done more harm than good to the royal institution the laws are designed to protect.”

Of course, PPT agrees with the CPJ.

We are less comfortable with an Associated Press report on this case and the CPJ’s account. What bothers us is this comment:

Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej is an intensely idolized figure here, and few if any Thais would condone insulting him.

PPT can only imagine that the AP author doesn’t have much contact with average Thais. It should now be clear to anyone who gets about in Thailand and away from the nonsense of state officials, that this view is very much out-dated. Even without prompting, many Thais will now speak out, even when they know that there may be legal consequences. This is a part of the crumbling royalist regime.

AP needs to get up to speed with the changes taking place in Thailand.




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