Joe Gordon’s learning

26 08 2011

Journalist Lisa Gardner has been following lese majeste stories and posting at Prachatai. Her latest contribution focuses on U.S. citizen Joe Gordon who is held in jail pending trial on lese majeste charges.

Joe tells Gardner that he has been learning a lot while imprisoned at the Bangkok Remand Prison, where other lese majeste victims are also held, including Somyos Pruksakasemsuk and Surachai Sae  Dan. Joe says:

“Before I was arrested, I had no feeling this way or that, for the ‘yellow shirts,’ or the ‘red shirts’,” Mr. Gordon stated, in an interview earlier this week. “I was only here on vacation, and I’m not Thai, you know? I didn’t really care about that stuff.”

Today, “I consider myself a political prisoner,” he says, “since I was arrested around the time of the election. I share a cell with (red shirt activist) Surachai (Saedarn),” he says. “There’s a few of us lèse majesté prisoners here, in the same building. He’s a good man, he speaks sense on this issue, and I have a lot of respect for him… So yes, since (my incarceration) started, I’ve learnt a lot.”

Joe also comments on the judicial system:

“I have no reason to believe that under the Thai legal system, that I’ll receive any justice. There’s no chance I could win: it’s just not a fair system,” Mr. Gordon says. “Judges are not impartial, and only want to maintain their ‘official’ bias. This is why it is important that the U.S. Government act to protect their citizens by ensuring my immediate release… Most people just cannot fight the system.”

There is huge pressure on those charged with lese majeste to plead guilty. If they don’t, much is done to ensure that their long stay in jail is as difficult as possible.

Joe is not particularly happy with the pathetic response of the U.S. Embassy and government on his case:

’Disappointment’ from the United States is not enough,” says Mr. Gordon. “There needs to be a stronger statement. It would be simple, you know. Free Joe. Now!

Indeed, Free Joe! And free all other political prisoners!


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