Updated: Vigilante lese majeste

16 01 2015

Just a day or so ago PPT posted on the concern that reasonable people should have about the military dictatorship’s lese majeste war. We pointed to the way in which the junta has actively sought to create cases, conduct political vendettas, and prosecute those considered political foes using the draconian law. We expressed this as the military dictatorship having encouraged a lese majeste frenzy amongst royalist. The result is a dangerous lese majeste vigilantism.

As if to prove us right, the police are reported at Prachatai as responding to lese majeste vigilantism.

Ultra-royalists and their media activated a campaign attacking “Pol Col Nahathai Tanya, an Assoc Prof of the Social Science Faculty of the Royal Police Cadet Academy.” The royalist vigilantes accuse Nahatai of posting “lese majeste content on the [F]acebook profiled under the name ‘Doungchampa Spencer Isenberg’.”

PPT has long seen posts on Facebook under this name. We read these from time to time and over several years, and it was clear to us that this name was used by a person living and working in the United States.

It is stated that Nahatai was listed on the junta’s  Order No. 49, “along with other prominent dissidents, such as Ji Ungpakorn and Jakrapob Penkair, who were summoned to report themselves…  in early June 2014.” News reports are that Nahatai was detained for seven days and then released. As the vigilantes seek out more victims in their lese majeste witch hunt, they came on Nahatai and began a campaign against her.

Prachatai reports that “several royalist Facebook pages and royalist media Chaopraya News revealed her personal information and bullied Nahatai and called for the authorities to prosecute her.” Apparently with no evidence to reveal, these lese majeste fanatics have “accused the police lecturer of using [the] Doungchampa Facebook to post lese majeste contents.”

The royalist vigilantes claim “she was summoned because she defamed the King on that [Facebook] profile, but was released and allowed to continue her civil servant work. They called for the authorities to fire her from civil servant post and prosecute her.”

Prachatai states: “Although they have never offered any evidence to support the allegation that Nahatai was behind Doungchampa Facebook, many people prompted to believe so and condemned her…”.

Following this social media pressure,”Pol Lt Gen Sakda Techakriangkrai, the academy commissioner of the Royal Police Cadet Academy, revealed that Nahathai was suspended from teaching position at the academy.” This despite his statement that “Nahathai never show inappropriate behaviours while she was teaching at the police academy.”

Meanwhile, the Doungchampa Facebook page has “posted that she is in fact a U.S. citizen and has been working for the U.S. government for the last 15 years,” adding, “When the lecturer went to report in with the [junta], I still posted on Facebook — real time. How could you say that she is me? Well, an innocent person face condemnation and bully because of such mistake?” We assume this means mistaken identity. More information in response to this charge was posted here.

This case suggests that the very dangerous turn taken by letting the lese majeste dogs out is having serious and negative impacts for those caught up by royalist vigilantism and for Thai society more broadly. Thailand’s political future looks dark and the country looks set to be ruled by authoritarian and royalists fundamentalists for a considerable time.

UpdateThe Bangkok Post’s editorial about “hate speech” and “principles,” seems to miss the most important point: it is about lese majeste and politics. It is highly unlikely that the puppet constitution stampers and approvers will do little more than define “hate speech” as being about lese majeste. Such a definition will make lese majeste more draconian, more repressive and will make Thailand a worse place. Royalists can hate as much as they want (see above), but only love and reverence, real or not, is allowed when it comes to the monarchy.




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