Patiwat Saraiyaem is a 23 year-old student and activist at Khon Kaen University. He was arrested on 14 August 2014 and later charged with lese majeste by prosecutors. He was sent to jail for 2.5 years on 23 February 2015.
Patiwat was Secretary General of the Student Federation of the North East.
Patiwat, along with a separately arrested and detained activist, Pornthip Munkhong, for their involvement in a political play, The Wolf Bride (เจ้าสาวหมาป่า), about a fictional monarch and kingdom.
The Wolf Bride was reportedly “performed in October 2013 at the Main Auditorium, Thammasat University, Bangkok, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the 14 October Popular Uprising…. The play was organized by former members of the now-defunct Prakai Fai Karn Lakorn, part of the left-leaning Prakai Fai group.”
By 26 October 2014, Patiwat had been denied bail six times. With Pornthip, Patiwat entered guilty please on lese majeste charges on 29 December 2014.
In pleading guilty, the defendants requested that the court suspend the jail terms they expect to receive. The court handed out sentences of 5 years, reduced by half for a guilty plea.
The royalist judges stated that: “performing the play … was an act of defamation and insult in front of numerous people…. Moreover, it was disseminated on many websites, causing damage to the monarchy, which is revered by all Thais [sic.]. Such action is a grave crime that warrants no suspension of the punishment.”
A lawyer said the two defendants were unlikely to appeal the verdict. In fact, experience shows that an appeal results in further punishment and even torture-like legal processes meant to punish the appellants who are almost always refused bail.
Police are reportedly searching for another six people involved in the play, and it is believed that several of them have fled royalist Thailand under the military dictatorship.
Patiwat was released on 12 August 2016.
Media accounts of Patiwat’s case:
PEN Canada, 6 September 2016: “Thailand: Student Activists Released Early”
Khaosod, 16 August 2016: “Exasperating Wait For Release of Loved Ones From Prison”
Radio Australia, 25 February 2015: “Human rights groups slam jailing of two Thai students for ‘royal insult’ in university play”
Asian Correspondent, 24 February 2015: “Thai court jails theater activists for lese majeste”
Sydney Morning Herald, 24 February 2015: “Thailand jails two for insulting the monarchy in a university play”
Bangkok Post, 24 February 2015: “Charged scenes as dramatist pair jailed for lese majeste”
The Australian, 24 February 2015: “Thai theatre activists jailed for lese majeste”
The Nation, 24 February 2015: “Jailing of actors for lese majeste stirs criticism”
Voice of America, 23 February 2015: “2 Students Given Jail Terms for Defaming Thai Royal Family”
Daily Mail, 23 February 2015: “Two Thais are jailed for more than two years for ‘defaming the monarchy’ in a university play”
The Indian Express, 23 February 2015: “Producers of ‘The Wolf Bride’ convicted for mocking the Thai monarchy”
Channel 4 News, 23 February 2015: “Jailed for satire: Thailand’s lese majeste convictions”
Irish Independent, 23 February 2015: “Thailand jails students for insulting monarchy in play”
The Times, 23 February 2015: “Thais jailed over satirical play about a king”
Business Times, 23 February 2015: “Thailand jails two on royal insult charge”
Lonely Planet Travel News, 23 February 2013: “Two jailed for insulting Thailand’s monarchy”
Zee News, 23 February 2015: “Thai actors sentenced for crime of lese-majeste”
Deutsche Welle, 23 February 2015: “Rights groups slam conviction of Thai theater activists for royal slur”
Associated Press, 23 February 2015: “2 Thais Who Staged Play Found Guilty of Insulting Monarchy”
Bloomberg, 23 February 2015: “Thai Court Sentences Two for Play Deemed Insulting to Monarchy”
Reuters, 23 February 2015: “Thailand jails two students for insulting monarchy in college play” ( video report by Reuters is here)
BBC, 23 February 2015: “Thai pair jailed for insulting monarchy in student play”
Prachatai, 23 February 2015: “Court sentences theater activists to 5 years in jail for lese majeste”
Khaosod, 23 February 2015: “Theater Activists Jailed Over Satirical Play About Monarchy”
South China Morning Post, 5 January 2015: “Thailand theatre troupe jailed, forced to flee for ‘insulting’ royals with performance”
Prachatai, 29 December 2014: “Wolf Bride theatre activists plead guilty to lese majeste charges”
Bangkok Post, 27 October 2014: “Lese majeste charge out of context”
Khaosod, 27 October 2014: “Activists Charged With Lese Majeste After 70-Day Detention“
Prachatai, 24 October 2014: “Prosecutors file lèse majesté charges against Wolf Bride theatre activists”
Prachatai, 26 September 2014: “Wolf Bride actor denied bail for fifth time”
Bangkok Post, 24 September 2014: “Stage artists feel fettered by censorship”
The Nation, 17 August 2014: “Bail denied for lese majeste suspect”
Prachatai, 15 August 2014: “Another activist charged with lèse majesté over political play”
Prachatai, 15 August 2014: “Khon Kaen student activist charged with lèse majesté for political stage play”