RoseAmornpat has written the following open letter to the US Ambassador Glyn Davies. PPT reproduces it with a few edits by us to fix a few typos in our original post:
Dear Ambassador Davies:
We wish to dispute Thai junta’s controlled media apparatus as well as its leaders, Gen. Prayuth Chan-Ocha and Gen. Pravit Wongsuwan for declaring that the U.S. government was meddling in its political affairs and that “Thai people have been hurt” by remarks concerning their barbaric lese majeste law or Article 112 of their Criminal Code.
Right-wing royalists have employed the same old line in justifying their illegal actions such as the frequent coup d’ etat, imposition of martial law or the current Article 44 which gives unlimited power to the junta chief, Gen. Prayuth Chan-Ocha.
We are pleased to note that U.S. groups and government are taking seriously various violations of codes by the military junta.
Thai elites have been very ungrateful to your government for a long time for the billion dollars worth of aid the U.S. has given Thailand over a long period of time. As a slap in the face, Thai junta embraces China in their current foreign policy.
We also wish to suggest that the United States should impose more severe economic sanctions against Thailand and travel restrictions on junta leaders to the U.S. and allies’ countries. If possible, please remove Thailand from the list of “Most Favored Nations” in terms of importation of Thai goods, unless Article 44 abrogated and political prisoners released.
We also wish to inform you a very important issue which is one of the major root causes of all of Thailand’s problems and their very slow democratic process is their despicable Article 112 of their Criminal Code. This is also called the lese majeste law which prohibits people from making any comments or constructive criticism of the Thai king, even if such comments are based on the truth.
This unjust lese majeste law has effectively silenced Thai people from speaking their mind. Once convicted, it also breaks up families and loved ones for years and years. Ninety-nine percent of the accused will be convicted by the Thai military court. This is so barbaric now, because ordinary Thai people are forced to appear in a military court! The trial is often a closed court session with no media allowed. Alleged prisoners of Article 112 will be sent to Thai jail from 3 to 15 years for each offense.
Hundreds are now in jails throughout Thailand. Some are now serving 10 or 20 years sentence. This is a travesty of justice. They are not criminals but brave individuals who dare to speak against this barbaric and unjust law and those who benefit by it!
For example, Darunee Charnchoensilpakul was sentenced to 18 years in jail on lese majeste charges on 28 August 2009. That trial, conducted in secret in a closed court, saw her receive 6 years for each of three comments she made speaking to a political rally. The case made a mockery of Thailand’s judicial processes. She’s been in Thai prison since 22 July 2008 and is in poor health.
Darunee is now suffering from an acute gum infection and yet the prison warden refused her proper medical treatments! This is a way to further torture her for criticizing the so-called “Father of the Nation.” It is believed that by maltreating her on purpose that she would finally confess one day and seek pardon from the Thai king. So far, Darunee refuses to admit that she did anything wrong.
Another 112 prisoner worth mentioning here is the case of Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, a former editor of a pro-democracy magazine who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for publishing an article deemed lese majeste. He, too, refuses to admit that he did anything wrong and is now in his 5th year in prison.
For a list of 112 prisoners, click here.
Article 112 or lese majeste prisoners are badly treated by fellow prisoners as well. On any royal holidays, all prisoners are routinely given a reduction of prison time except 112 prisoners who have to serve full terms. On the upcoming King’s Birthday on December 5th, all criminal prisoners and their family are looking forward to the release or reduction of jail time. Sadly, lese majeste violators will likely not be granted any leniency. In fact, they should not have been in jail in the first place, because they all expressed their comments about the royals in a peaceful manner.
Anyone can file the lese majeste charge against anyone and the police are required to investigate and often complete the process all the way to the court. Failure to do so will have serious repercussion to the investigating officers.
Even though the king said in his speech in 2005 that he disagrees with this law, but he has not done a thing to abolish it either. He has all the power within him to do so. But nothing was done so far.
This very uncivilized and unjust law gives the Thai monarchy unlimited power to do anything for their own interest and prosperity! The king’s investment arm of Crown Property Bureau (CPB) is the largest owner of all the prime property in Bangkok and the major shareholder of the Stock Exchange of Thailand! The king himself is the richest monarch in the world ranked by Forbes magazine 7 years in a row. At the same time, Thai children are still begging or selling garlands in the streets of Bangkok in order to help their family. These children should be in school, not selling garlands or flowers in the streets!
Poor families are forced to sell their daughters for prostitution. Slave wages are the norm in most factories. Intelligent Thai men and women have to flee the country, because they commented on or revealed too much about the secrets of the monarchy.
No one can question how CPB became so rich and powerful. No one can question its books and whether or not CPB pays any taxes. This is off the public record.
The royals claim the wealth and its assets belong to the people. But we have not seen any substantial monetary contributions to help the poor coming from CPB during the past 60 years! Even the royal projects are paid for by taxpayers.
Because of this law, Thailand has, so far, 19 coup d’ etat’s including the recent one in May 22, 2014! Thai king endorses and approves the coups and then pardons the coup makers!
Even all the past prime ministers of Thailand did not dare to question the suitability and viability of this law! Most politicians, academics, critics and foreign journalists all ignore this subject for fear of going to jail, because of the evil nature of Article 112! Any suggestion or slight hint of revising the law would certainly be subject to lese majeste charge!
Thai people are held hostages by this evil law!
United States must lead in calling for the abolition of this very unjust law or Thailand will continue to face economic sanctions. The great countries of the EU, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, India and all the Southeast Asian nations must be united and impose sanctions until Thailand and Thai monarchy abolish such a barbaric law!
This law is not an internal affair of Thailand. It is the affair of the world and every peace-loving and democratic citizen of the world is obligated to tell Thai king, enough is enough!
Thai royalists including royalist mass media often tell the world that Thai king is so well-loved by the people. This is a untrue! Please demand they abolish the lese majeste law and see if this claim is still true or not.
Last but not least, the Cold War was over a long time ago. There is no threat of Communism any more. We understand the U.S. government during the Vietnam War created the power of the King in order to serve as a beachhead against Communist China. But now, China is acting more like a big Capitalist and the U.S. or any democratic countries do not need Thai monarchy anymore. Thai people are craving a true democracy, not a warped democracy like Thailand with the so-called “with king as head of state” who is in fact a very bad dictator in disguise.
The Thai people do not need the monarchy which taxpayers have to support them at the sum of $500 million dollars a year, even though Thai monarch is the richest in the world.
Thai monarchy is now very unpopular and hated by most Thai people. Only a handful from the rich elite still love the monarchy, because they share their mutual business interests.
We, the voiceless Thai people, in and outside Thailand, wish to express our deepest gratitude for your comments at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand on November 25, 2015.
Chatwadee Rose Amornpat