Nitirat’s commitment vs. royalist intimidation

28 01 2012

Despite enormous pressure and intimidation, the Nitirat group remained committed to its campaign to amend the lese majeste law.

The bravery involved in standing up to the immense power of the hierarchical power of the forces that use and protect the monarchy is seen in how others squirm and flee principled political action.

The elected government under the Puea Thai Party has repeatedly expressed its unwillingness to to get involved in any principled action on lese majeste.

The pressure on supporters of Nitirat has been enormous and the threats are clear and real. Thammasat University law lecturer Sawatree Suksri revealed she had “received a letter from a military officer warning against proceeding with the campaign.”

Reflective of this pressure, former activist – “former” refers to an era now almost four decades ago – Seksan Prasertkul has distanced himself from Nitirat. He says he supports the monarchy but he is clearly fearful. He says he has “no plan to join the movement because I am fed up with conflicts…”. While Seksan hasn’t been politically progressive for years, his incapacity to take a principled stand is obviously also a product of fear.

Meanwhile, Nitirat have reiterated that its members are facing individual attack – including death threats – rather than being directed to the proposals themselves. “It claimed that facts and legal principles were also distorted to create misunderstandings among the public.” That is crystal clear.

The group insisted on the legitimacy of its proposals and its right to debate laws that are unjust or illegitimate.

United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship chair Thida Tawornsate Tojirakarn “urged all groups to maintain objectivity when discussing proposals, including amending Section 112.” She added: “Society should listen and we red shirts will do so. We live in an open society and criticism should be based on reason, not emotion…”.

That seems unlikely as the full power of the royalists has been rained down on a group that has dared to challenge laws and rules that limit democracy in Thailand.

Nitirat’s efforts are remarkably brave and leave them open to the kinds of nasty pressure and intimidation usually reserved for individuals accused of lese majeste.


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