Monarchy critic gets refugee status

28 05 2022

The New Zealand Herald reports that Sinchai Chaojaroenrat, 57, an independent scholar and author “critical of the Thai monarchy has been granted refugee status on the grounds that he could face serious harm if he returned to Thailand…”.

The report also states that “despite inconsistencies in his claims,Immigration New Zealand stated that Sinchai’s “fear of being persecuted is … considered to be well founded…. There is a real chance of Dr Sinchai being persecuted if he returns to Thailand now.”

It is reported that “Sinchai believes that he was targeted by people close to the royal family and faced a risk of being kidnapped, imprisoned assassinated by the Thai authorities for his views.”

Sinchai was born in Chon Buri and “believes strongly in secularism despite being raised as a Christian. His interest in politics began at high school and he became more politically involved when he studied political science at university.”

It is claimed that by 2013, his “Facebook page and over time attracted more than 200,000 followers.” In 2019, he was a vigorous media commentator. New Zealand authorities concluded that Sinchai’s criticisms “centred on the country being undemocratic and the fact that the King’s personal conduct consumed a lot of the national budget. He also posted about the King’s sexual misconduct as he had many mistresses…”. It added that: “He also critiqued that the monarchy was treated as demi-gods and believed this was an outdated and obsolete tradition and that it was degrading to the people of Thailand to have to bow down before them.” He criticized the king’s “volunteers – the 904 program – as part of a “strategy in merging the monarchy with every government agency.”

Sinchai received multiple warnings and threats before fleeing Thailand.

But he claimed that what followed was a direct message sent on Twitter by a follower who said her father was a high ranking general in the military who had been assigned to take action against him.

This was one of several claims made by Sinchai that INZ did not accept to be credible.

The authorities concluded: “Country information unequivocally demonstrates that those who are publicly critical of the monarchy in Thailand, including on social media, can be subject to criminal charges…”.

Sinchai says “he was extremely grateful to New Zealand for letting him stay here as a refugee” and states that he feels safer. He vows to continue his criticism.


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