Locking up the king’s opponents

15 03 2021

A recent article at the Australian Financial Review notes the feeling that, after some eight months, the regime is on top of the demonstrators. It states:

King … Vajiralongkorn is digging in. In recent months, the Thai king has told protesters calling for some modest reforms to his unbridled powers that he loves them, while those leading the movement have been arrested and face lengthy jail sentences….. The king has also, unusually, spent a lot of time at home…. His favourite residence was in Bavaria, Germany. But since his return to his homeland – and to his 70 million subjects – to celebrate his mother’s birthday last July, he is believed to have stayed put.

The article notes that, since last October, the use of Article 112 on lese majeste has been a core element of the strategy to defeat those challenging the king:

Since then, at least 57 lese majeste charges have been laid against protest leaders. Parit Chiwarak, also known as Penguin and one of the best known faces of the protests movement, faces 27 charges of lese majeste.

We think it is probably a lot more than this, but the secrecy involved means it is difficult to keep up with the charges, with one social media source suggesting 13 more cases over the past weekend.

The report cites Australian academic Greg Raymond who asks: “Does the return of the lese majeste charges mean the king has asked for this law to be used? It would seem to a logical argument but we don’t know for certain…”. We reckon the king has sent out orders to the regime and his judges. After all, the regime sheathed 112 when the king told them to, so it can only be assumed that he’s told them to wield it again, and to be ruthless – a trait of the king.

Raymond reckons “that for now at least the monarchy and the government appear to have the upper hand. He also believes those intent on change are playing a long game.” We think he’s right. We also agree the protest leaders understood that “they were running a huge risk” going after the monarchy, highlighting their “long game.”

We can only wonder how many more political prisoners will be jailed as the regime seeks to bolster its power and that of the palace.



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