Bundith Arniya

BundithBundith Arniya or Jerseng Sae Kow faced an ongoing case of lese majeste for several years. It was eventually finished with Bundith found guilty on 17 February 2014. However, he was again charged with lese majeste on 19 February 2015 for another alleged offense following his suspended sentencing on the first case.

Bundith is a well-known translator, mainly of books about socialism. He claims that the first time he was accused of lese majeste was in 1975.

His first case related to alleged comments made on 22 September 2003 when he apparently objected to the display of the king’s photo in a meeting and distributed documents promoting democracy. He was arrested, held without bail for 98 days before getting bail. The complaint against him came from then Election Commissioner Wassana Permlap. Eventually he was charged with lese majeste and sentenced to 4 years in March 2006. However, he was put on probation because he had no criminal record and was already 64 years old and considered mentally ill.

The secretary of the Privy Council, the plaintiff in the case, is said to have appealed the case to a higher court, not wanting Bundith to have probation. This appeal was reportedly heard in a closed courtroom.

According to information received by PPT, over the period since the initial allegations, he was detained seven times and beaten while in custody.

In March 2006, the Court of First Instance judged Bundith to be guilty and sentenced him to four years in prison. However, the Court chose to suspend this sentence due to his claim of schizophrenia. In 2009, the Appeal Court reversed the suspension of the sentence on the basis that Bundith was aware of the illegality of his alleged actions and sentenced him to two years and eight months in prison. Unlike many other Article 112 cases, throughout the appeal process, Bundith has been permitted bail by the Appeal Court.

On 17 February 2014 it was reported that Bundith was essentially back at square 1. This decision by the Supreme Court found the “73 year old writer guilty of insulting the monarchy and handed him a suspended sentence of three years in prison.”

Bundith’s reaction to the verdict was said to be “mixed. He voiced his disappointment that the court found him guilty of the alleged crime, but expressed relief that the prison term has been averted.” He added: “I am glad that I didn′t have to die in prison…”.

The report adds that the “trial of Mr. Bundit had been largely conducted in secrecy, and the media had been dissuaded from reporting about the case thanks to strict lese majeste laws.”

His second case saw the military’s Judge Advocate General’s Office file charges against the now 74 year-old for asking questions about the constitutional monarchy at a seminar.

The seminar, organized in Bangkok by Waranchai Chokchana, was on 26 November 2014. It attracted just over a dozen people. Bundith was reportedly arrested at the seminar before he had even finished his speech, although the prosecutor alleged that the lese majeste comment was made after the panel ended. Prachatai reported that Bundith stated:

“My point is now Thai people are separated into two sides: The one which is in favour of a monarchy which does not abide by the law, as the head of the state…. I have a question: between keeping the monarchy and XXXX, which one…” Bundit was arrested by police before he could finish his sentence. (The phrase in italics is a paraphrase and the black highlight covers words that are censored in order to avoid repeating the alleged lèse majesté content.)

According to the military’s prosecutor, saying that the monarchy does not abide by the law and to ask about the two choices constitute contempt of the king and lese majeste.

As in his previous case, Bundith has been released on bail. This may be because of his poor health. As noted above, he has mental health problems and he has only one kidney and has to carry a urine drainage bag.

This case continues. Lawyers argued that Bundith was mentally unfit for trial. Revealingly, before a military court, a psychiatrist from the Galya Rajanagarindra Institute testified that the writer suffers from chronic mental illness which causes him to have anxiety, strange logic and to behave in bizarre ways. That seems clear enough. Despite this, the psychiatrist concluded that Bundith could stand on trial. The military court ruled that the case would proceed with the trial.

However, in an unusual decision, Bundith was released on 400,000 baht bail due to his age and poor health.

Bundith’s third case began on 12 September 2015, when police detained him for making comments about the need for equality of all classes in a new constitution. Apparently equality frightens Thailand’s military bosses, especially when discussing the junta’s draft constitution.

Police arrested the writer for allegedly making comments about the Monarchy while talking about human dignity at a political seminar. The seminar was at Thammasat University and was about the junta-sponsored constitution drafting process.

Police agitation over the comments at the seminar concerns Bundith’s proposed five principles for the draft constitution, one of which is about human dignity. The royalist police allege that the comment about human dignity allegedly contained references to the monarchy.

Police officers and soldiers who spied on the seminar were not amused with Bundith’s suggestion that the new constitution should contain the idea that people of all classes shall be equal and all are equal owners of the country. Initially, the comments did not result in a lese majeste charge. Now, however, the mood has changed and this statement, which would be entirely unremarkable in modern and civilized nations, is considered to insult the dead king.

We guess the junta and/or the palace is behind the change of position on Bundith’s case.

According to the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, the Military Court of Bangkok on 16 November 2016 denied the bail request for Bundith. He will be detained in Bangkok Remand Prison until 29 November 2016, with the possibility of the custody being renewed. When he gets to court, Bundith will be in a military court because, as ludicrous as it sounds, the military junta deems “insulting the royal family is deemed a matter of national security and tribunals will continue hearing such cases.”

Lese majeste strips everyone of all dignity.

Media accounts of Bundith’s case:

Prachatai, 16 November 2016: “Updated: Embattled 71-year-old writer arrested for third time under lèse majesté law

Khaosod, 16 November 2016: “Elderly Writer Arrested for Lese Majeste a Year After Alleged Offense

Bangkok Post, 8 May 2016: “Caught in the madness of the system

Prachatai, 12 February 2016: “Lèse majesté trial of elderly writer with psychosis continues

Prachatai, 13 September 2015: “74-year-old detained for saying all Thais should be equal

Prachatai, 20 February 2015: “Old man indicted for lèse majesté for asking questions about constitutional monarchy

Khaosod, 17 February 2014: “Writer Gets Suspended Sentence For Lese Majeste

Prachatai, 26 July 2013: “Writer convicted of lèse majesté to face final verdict at Supreme Court

37 responses

28 05 2009
New: Bundith Arniya’s lesè majesté case « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] have some basic details on the case at Pending Cases, and welcome reader input by email to: […]

30 05 2009
More lese majeste prosecution-PPT « FACT – Freedom Against Censorship Thailand

[…] have some basic details on the case at Pending Cases, and welcome reader input, including updates and corrections, by email to: […]

23 04 2012
30 06 2012
More MFA claptrap « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Bundith Arniya […]

30 06 2012
More MFA claptrap « Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] ultra-royalists, the Abhisit Vejjajiva government and the military. Other plaintiffs have included the Privy Council. The law is the problem; get rid of it and it can’t be […]

5 12 2012
Lese majeste not forgotten « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Bundith Arniya […]

5 12 2012
Lese majeste not forgotten « Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] Hongkangwarn, Amnuay Kaewchomphu, Anek Chaichana, Aswin (family name withheld), The Bangkok 19, Bundith Arniya, Anthony Chai, Chanin Khlaikhlung, Chucheep Chivasut, Chuphong Thithuan, Community Radio Station […]

23 01 2013
23 01 2013
HRW on Somyos lese majeste conviction « Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] is neither here nor there as they are unable to do this. That said, while usually hushed up, it is known that the Royal Household and Privy Council participate in some legal actions on lese […]

23 08 2013
Two lese majeste cases | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] This case goes back to 2003. The report states: […]

23 08 2013
Two lese majeste cases | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] This case goes back to 2003. The report states: […]

11 12 2013
Lese majeste this week | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Bantit (last name withheld) is a 73-year-old writer and translator of over 30 books who has been accused of violating Article 112, the measure in the Thai Criminal Code that stipulates that, “Whoever defames, insults or threatens the King, Queen, the Heir-apparent or the Regent, shall be punished (with) imprisonment of three to fifteen years.” His case is a clear example of the use of Article 112 to constrict freedom of information and contribute to the creation of a climate of fear. […]

11 12 2013
Lese majeste this week | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] Bantit (last name withheld) is a 73-year-old writer and translator of over 30 books who has been accused of violating Article 112, the measure in the Thai Criminal Code that stipulates that, “Whoever defames, insults or threatens the King, Queen, the Heir-apparent or the Regent, shall be punished (with) imprisonment of three to fifteen years.” His case is a clear example of the use of Article 112 to constrict freedom of information and contribute to the creation of a climate of fear. […]

14 02 2014
Lese majeste verdict due | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received update information about the case of Bantit (last name withheld), charged with violating Article 112 of the Criminal Code in Black Case No. 725/2548 (Red Case No. […]

14 02 2014
Lese majeste verdict due | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received update information about the case of Bantit (last name withheld), charged with violating Article 112 of the Criminal Code in Black Case No. 725/2548 (Red Case No. […]

17 02 2014
Lese majeste verdict | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] noted that Khaosod reports on the judgement in the case of Bundith Arniya on lese majeste charges that had gone back to the Supreme Court. It is reported that the court […]

17 02 2014
Lese majeste verdict | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] noted that Khaosod reports on the judgement in the case of Bundith Arniya on lese majeste charges that had gone back to the Supreme Court. It is reported that the court […]

30 11 2014
Recent lese majeste case updates | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] making a comment during a seminar that allegedly defamed the King.” Bundith, a writer, was previously released on a suspended lese majeste charge, suffering “psychosis, [and who] has only one kidney and has to carry a urine drainage bag […]

23 12 2014
The most significant “crime” | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] This is diabolical nonsense as even a recent case shows, where the Royal Household Bureau has used the draconian lese majeste law to file a complaint against woman who held the contract to supply the prince’s palace kitchen with chili paste…. There are other cases where the direct involvement of the palace is known. […]

28 12 2014
Lese majeste witch-hunts | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] we have to take care of him…”. We indicated that several recent cases show that there has been direct involvement of the palace in using the law. Our last post showed how the use of the law in a huge number of recent cases seems to have […]

28 12 2014
Lese majeste witch-hunts | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] we have to take care of him…”. We indicated that several recent cases show that there has been direct involvement of the palace in using the law. Our last post showed how the use of the law in a huge number of recent cases seems to have […]

21 02 2015
Bundith again charged with lese majeste | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] In his first case, Bundith faced an ongoing case of lese majeste for several years for alleged comments made on 22 September 2003 when he apparently objected to the display of the king’s photo in a meeting and distributed documents promoting democracy. The case was eventually finished with found guilty on 17 February 2014. In that case, it was the secretary of the Privy Council,  who was the plaintiff. Some of the case was reportedly heard in a closed courtroom. He was eventually found guilty and handed a suspended sentence of three years in prison. […]

21 02 2015
Bundith again charged with lese majeste | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] In his first case, Bundith faced an ongoing case of lese majeste for several years for alleged comments made on 22 September 2003 when he apparently objected to the display of the king’s photo in a meeting and distributed documents promoting democracy. The case was eventually finished with found guilty on 17 February 2014. In that case, it was the secretary of the Privy Council,  who was the plaintiff. Some of the case was reportedly heard in a closed courtroom. He was eventually found guilty and handed a suspended sentence of three years in prison. […]

15 09 2015
Ruling inequality | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Bundith Arniya or Jerseng Sae Kow faced an ongoing case of lese majeste for several years. He was eventually found guilty on 17 February 2014. However, he was again charged with lese majeste on 19 February 2015 for an alleged offense following his suspended sentencing on the first case. Thai police officers detained an elderly writer after he made comments about the new constitutional draft, which they said might affect national security. […]

15 09 2015
Ruling inequality | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] Bundith Arniya or Jerseng Sae Kow faced an ongoing case of lese majeste for several years. He was eventually found guilty on 17 February 2014. However, he was again charged with lese majeste on 19 February 2015 for an alleged offense following his suspended sentencing on the first case. Thai police officers detained an elderly writer after he made comments about the new constitutional draft, which they said might affect national security. […]

14 12 2015
Palace bitch defamed | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] says that Bundith Arniya was convicted for “writing allegorically about a dog the court deemed a reference to Tong […]

14 12 2015
Palace bitch defamed | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] says that Bundith Arniya was convicted for “writing allegorically about a dog the court deemed a reference to Tong […]

13 02 2016
The bitch is dead, lese majeste madness prevails | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] of lese majeste cases involving the now deceased dog is three. Khaosod mentioned a case against Bundith Arniya who it states was convicted for “writing allegorically about a dog the court deemed a reference […]

13 02 2016
The bitch is dead, lese majeste madness prevails | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] of lese majeste cases involving the now deceased dog is three. Khaosod mentioned a case against Bundith Arniya who it states was convicted for “writing allegorically about a dog the court deemed a reference […]

14 02 2016
Chronic mental illness no bar to lese majeste trial | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] and iLaw have details on the lese majeste case facing Bundith Arniya or Jerseng Sae Kow. Bundith has faced several lese majeste cases over several years. In the latest […]

14 02 2016
Chronic mental illness no bar to lese majeste trial | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] and iLaw have details on the lese majeste case facing Bundith Arniya or Jerseng Sae Kow. Bundith has faced several lese majeste cases over several years. In the latest […]

8 05 2016
Lese majeste news | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] by Nanchanok Wongsamuth in the Bangkok Post. The article provides some interesting background on Bundith Arniya, who is currently on trial for his second lese majeste charge. He was first accused of lese majeste […]

8 05 2016
Lese majeste news | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] by Nanchanok Wongsamuth in the Bangkok Post. The article provides some interesting background on Bundith Arniya, who is currently on trial for his second lese majeste charge. He was first accused of lese majeste […]

7 06 2016
Palace and lese majeste | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] We think this acknowledges the reality of the palace’s involvement in lese majeste cases. We have previously noted this involvement by the political interventionists at the Office of His Majesty’s Principal Private Secretary, here and here, and by the Privy Council, here. […]

7 06 2016
Palace and lese majeste | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] We think this acknowledges the reality of the palace’s involvement in lese majeste cases. We have previously noted this involvement by the political interventionists at the Office of His Majesty’s Principal Private Secretary, here and here, and by the Privy Council, here. […]

17 11 2016
Human dignity and lese majeste | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Bundith Arniya or Jerseng Sae Kow, now 71 years old or 75 years old, depending on the source, has faced a series of lese majeste for several years. He is a reasonably well-known translator, mainly of books about socialism. He claims that the first time he was accused of lese majeste was in 1975. […]

17 11 2016
Human dignity and lese majeste | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] Bundith Arniya or Jerseng Sae Kow, now 71 years old or 75 years old, depending on the source, has faced a series of lese majeste for several years. He is a reasonably well-known translator, mainly of books about socialism. He claims that the first time he was accused of lese majeste was in 1975. […]