6 years for political activism

1 12 2015

Prachatai reports the 1 December 2015 conviction of 60 year-old Charnvit J. by the Criminal Court in Nonthaburi. He was sentenced to six years in prison for distributing political leaflets at a demonstration on 25 November 2007, alleged to constitute lese majeste.

Charnvit is said to be a “self-proclaimed leftist” who “defamed” the “King, Queen, the Crown Prince and the Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn … with the leaflets.” Sirindhorn is not covered by Article 112, but that does not seem to stop the courts using the law in this way.

During a hearing on 16 September 2015, in contrast with most others accused of this “crime” in recent months, Charnvit did not plead guilty. He “admitted that he distributed the leaflets, but disagreed that the leaflets defame the Thai monarchy.” He stated that “he produced the leaflets because he wanted the ‘spirit’ of the People’s Party, … who ended the absolute monarchy in 1932, to come true wherein the country would be ruled by ‘the monarchy under a democratic constitution’ not a country with the ‘democratic system of governance with the monarchy as the head of state’.”

Charnvit added that “stated that he produced the leaflets to honestly express his thoughts about the ‘transition’ of the country concerning the Thai monarchy, adding that the Thai monarchy would be more ‘stable’ if the institution resembles the Japanese monarchy.”

In royalist Thailand, this is provocative to the courts and other monarchist institutions, even if accurate. His defiance continued: “Distributing leaflets is a kind of political actions. My purpose is only to examine the ‘transition’ [in Thai society]. I’m a citizen, so I need to introduce some new ideas to the society. [I] can’t just sit down passively…”.

Charnvit was arrested in 2008 and released on bail. The case came up again when Charnvit was “alleged as one one of the suspects of Ratchada Criminal Court bombing on 7 March 2015.” He has been in jail since then.