Chotisak Onsoong, a young political activist, and his friend were accused by police in April 2008 of insulting the monarchy for refusing to stand during the royal anthem that precedes all movie screenings in Thailand.
The U.S. State Department’s annual human rights report for 2008 mentions this case: “On April 5, police charged social activists Chotisak Ongsoong and Songkran Pongbunjan with lese majeste for not standing for the royal anthem in a movie theater in September 2007. They were released without bail; the case was under investigation at year’s end. On April 29 and 30, radio station Metro Life 97 urged listeners to attack Chotisak when he was scheduled to appear at a panel discussion on lese majeste at Thammasat University. The Web site component of the station also posted his personal information, including his address and telephone number.”
On 14 March 2009, then Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, in a talk he gave at Oxford University, in response to a question from lese majeste exile Giles Ungpakorn, clearly stated: “… I have been told that you made specific allegations against the monarchy. If not, of course the charges would be dropped. Just as the case of Chotisak that you mentioned has already been dropped. So you have to be specific on the fact to get the detail so that you don’t create misunderstanding.” However, Chotisak has stated that the charges have not been dropped (see Prachatai, 17 March 2009: “โชติศักดิ์เผยคดีไม่ยืนฯ อยู่ชั้นอัยการ ยังไม่ยุติอย่างที่นายกฯ บอก”). In June 2009, Chotisak’s case remained under investigation. It can only be concluded that Abhisit deliberately misled for political gain.
The case was delayed by the prosecutor several times before Chotisak and friend were called to appear to hear the pending charges. They fled Thailand.
On 20 July 2012, it was reported that the public prosecutor,while decrying the act of not standing “decided to drop a lèse majesté case against Chotisak and his friend who did not stand up for the royal anthem in a Bangkok cinema in 2007.”
The pair returned to Thailand.
News on Chotisak’s and Songkran’s case:
Prachatai, 29 July 2012: “Prosecutor drops case against couple not standing for royal anthem in cinema”
AFP/NY Times, 24 April 2008, “Moviegoer Faces Prison for Sitting During Anthem”
Prachatai, 9 April 2008, “Thai couple faces lèse majesté charges for not standing for royal anthem in cinema”