Updated: Korean support as Somyos lese majeste trial resumes

19 04 2012

The Nation reports on the resumption of Somyos Prueksakasemsuk’s lese majeste trial, this time in Bangkok.

Yesterday, his lawyers

tried to explain to the judges that the two articles, written by an anonymous person under the pen name of Jit Polachan – which led to the filing of charges against Somyos – were not directly defamatory of HM the King. Any such conclusion, they said, could only be made through interpretation of the text….

Indeed, this view was apparently supported in evidence by a prosecution witness: “Col Vijarn Jodtaeng, director of the legal division of the Internal Security Operation Command (Isoc), [who] testified that there was no direct mention of the King…”. He then added that he interpreted that it was about the king.

Defense lawyer Karom Polpornklang insisted, however, that this was just an “interpretation” and others might interpret it differently.

The articles mentioned were published in February and March 2010 and refer to a “mastermind with the name ‘Luang Naruebarn’ who wanted to launch a bloody crackdown on protesters.” It is interesting that the articles were prior to the first of two Abhisit Vejjajiva government-ordered crackdowns in April and May 2010.

When defense lawyers asked Col. Vijarn “if he was aware that HM the King had once stated that the King was not above criticism. The colonel refused to answer but added that the law would take care of it.”

Two other prosecution witnesses apparently gave similar testimony agreeing that they interpreted the stories were about the king.

Meanwhile, the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), which represents some 800,000 workers, has called for the unconditional and immediate release of lese majeste victim Somyos Prueksakasemsuk. Here’s the letter sent to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra:

HE Ms Yingluck Shinawatra

Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand

Government House

Pitsanulok Road, Dusit District

Bangkok 10300, Thailand

Cc. Mr. Chaiyong SATJIPANON, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary

Royal Thai Embassy, Korea

653-7, Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul 140-210

Your Excellency,

On behalf of 800,000 members of Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, I am writing to you in connection with the upcoming trial and continued detention of Somyot Prueksakasemsuk who faces charges under lèse‐majesté law. Somyot is known well in Korean labour movement for his tireless work in establishing democratic labour movement and strengthening solidarity among workers in Asia. We are deeply concerned about misuse of lèse‐majesté law to repress voices from labour and social movement.

We respectfully remind you that the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted by consensus by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1998, recognises the legitimacy of the activities of human rights defenders, their right to freedom of association and calls on States to ensure that they can carry out their activities without fear of reprisals. We believe the continuous abuse of the lèse‐majesté law is politically motivated and detrimental to the rebuilding of democracy in Thailand. Such laws have to be reviewed in accordance to international human rights standards.

In this regards, we are call on the authorities in Thailand to drop all charges against against Somyot Prueksakasemsuk and release him immediately and unconditionally. We believe that this is a very basic step to restore and enhance freedom of expression and democracy in Thailand.

Yours Sincerely,

Kim Young-hoon

President, Korean Confederation of Trade Unions

Update: The Clean Clothes Campaign has stated that it will send an observer to attend the Somyos trial during the last week of April. The observer has over 30 years experience working on Asia development and human rights issues and will join other observers sent by the International Committee for Jurists (ICJ) and the EU mission. The Global Union Federation ICEM (International Chemical, Engineering and Mining Workers) has also launched a public campaign demanding the of release of Somyos.



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19 04 2012

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