Lese majeste mania

21 10 2016

Following from our post yesterday, it is becoming clear that the post-death lese majeste action is shifting from vigilante mobs to the military dictatorship.

On the one hand, if there is a decline in mob vigilantism, this might be considered somewhat positive. On the other, the military’s state hardly needs encouragement to enforce the feudal lese majeste law. As readers know, lese majeste has been used by the military regime to enforce social and political order.

In a period where succession remains a subject of intense speculation, using lese majeste for maintaining order is becoming a mania.

The Bangkok Post reports that “[f]ive people have been arrested on lese majeste charges since … the King’s passing…”. This contrasts with an earlier Prachatai reports that stated “police have so far prosecuted 12 people for lèse majesté since King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s death on 13 October…”. We think the differnce is that five have been charged and another seven are “identified” and under investigation.

Whatever the number, we can be sure that there will be more prosecutions.

The alleged breaches of the law include references to the dead king, the crown prince and the regent (General Prem Tinsulaonda).

The monochrome nation is in the hands of intolerant royalists and the bland condemnations of vigilantism are often crafted in the most syrupy royalism and efforts to join with the junta in blaming victims and reproduce some of the most flagrant palace propaganda. At times these  propagandists seem to have lobotomized out the work of Handley and others over the past decade.

A member of the routinely hopeless National Human Rights Commission has also condemned vigilantism, but there seems nothing on the NHRC website about this.

None of this faux liberal facade should be permitted to obscure the military dictatorship’s continuing lese majeste mania and ongoing purge.

The deputy national police chief also warned netizens against posts which defame the royal institution. Junta spokesman Lt-Gen. Sansern Kaewkamnerd has warned against lese majeste. The Dictator has warned too. The message is clear. The authorities are actively seeking out those it considers are in violation of the feudal law and are prosecuting them. They seek to prevent the expression of different opinions on the monarchy.

Sansern stated: “The government won’t avoid enforcing the law in cases of proved violations [of the lese majeste law].”

Indeed. The fact is that the junta is scouring the internet for “offenders.” It is encouraging cyber-vigilantes to report any cases.

Prachatai reports that the “Digital Ministry has increased its staff at an online surveillance centre tasked with searching for lèse majesté content…”. The Ministry “has appointed 118 new staff to the Cyber Security Operation Center (CSOC), a 24/7 online monitoring center…”.

Minister Air Chief Marshal Prajin Juntong stated:

We’ve co-operating closely with the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commissions and internet service providers both inside and outside the country. This operation is to prevent people who are already in mourning from being subjected to further mental impact…. We don’t want everything to be shown in public because it is an inappropriate time. Please understand that we are seriously working 24/7.

The air force general also claimed “that the CSOC detected 52 lèse majesté webpages on 14 October and another 61 the next day.” He proclaimed that “35 per cent of them have already been blocked…”.

He added that there was now an effort to prosecute those responsible for the pages.

The courts will see a frenzy of lese majeste and computer crimes charges.


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21 11 2016