The lese majeste witch hunt

16 09 2011

Simon Montlake at Forbes continues the pattern of international exposure of the political and quite bizarre nature of Thailand’s lese majeste and computer crimes laws. He says:

Internet webmasters are expected to monitor their sites for illegal or inappropriate content. Most Internet companies have policies for dealing with such content, such as takedowns in response to complaints and other feedback. But this may not be enough to escape prosecution in Thailand, which is on the warpath against online political speech. A high-profile trial of an Internet webmaster accused of not keeping sufficiently close tabs on her customers … has gotten plenty of attention lately. It has even rung alarm bells among global companies. They worry that Thailand’s clampdown on websites is bad for free speech and for e-commerce.

He’s referring to the trial of Prachatai’s Chiranuch Premchaiporn. Montalake laments the changes in Thailand:

Thailand was once a relative bastion of free speech in a repressive region but has rowed rapidly backwards since a coup in 2006. As political tensions have risen, conservatives have launched a witch hunt to find enemies of Thailand’s royal family. The monarchy is supposed to be apolitical, but this is a fiction.

The result is that “[d]ozens of Thais and a Thai-American are either on trial, facing trial or in prison for breaching Thailand’s royal defamation law,” not to mention thousands upon thousands of URLs blocked as anti-monarchy.

The more publicity lese majeste cases deliver, the more ridiculous the conservative witch hunts seems. The problem is that it continues, so far unabated.