Giles Ji Ungpakorn

Giles Ji UngpakornGiles Ji Ungpakorn / ใจ อึ๊งภากรณ์ was an Associate Professor of Political Science at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. He is also a prolific writer on Thai affairs and activist with the Workers’ Democracy party. Additional information, including Thai and other language translations of A Coup for the Rich and the statements mentioned below can be found on Giles Ji Ungpakorn’s blog.

Giles fled Thailand in February 2009. One of the lese majeste cases was due to be heard in Tai court on 9 February 2009. Giles, who holds both Thai and British citizenship,  left for England, stating, “It is clear that the charge is really about preventing any discussion about the relationship between the military junta and the monarchy,” and adding, “This is in order to protect the military’s sole claim to legitimacy: that it acted in the interests of the monarchy.” He was concerned that he  would not receive a fair trial.

In March 2009, a Thai court issued a warrant for his arrest.

In early November 2009, Giles was again accused of lese majeste. The charge relates to his Red Siam blog. A group of self-proclaimed nationalists made complaints to the police. This is an interesting complaint as it relates to alleged offenses committed outside Thailand, so will be followed with considerable interest.

In early 2011, Ji’s Thailand’s Crisis and the fight for Democracy was officially banned in Thailand, more than a year after it was published. This means that no one is permitted to import it to the country. Ji claims, however, that the now-banned book has almost sold out when the ban was announced. He has a Thai language version available for free download.

According to Matichon, there are four cases against him: คดีพิเศษที่ 399/53 (lese majeste), คดีพิเศษที่ 400/53 (lese majeste), คดีพิเศษที่ 404/53 (lese majeste) and คดีพิเศษที่ 17/54 (treason). เผยแพร่แผ่นซีดีบันทึกภาพและเสียง พร้อมด้วยไฟล์เอกสารเนื้อหาล้มล้างการปกครองในระบอบประชาธิปไตยอันมีพระมหากษัตริย์ทรงเป็นประมุข . The first for writing something on a web site, the second for writing a book (we assume A Coup for the Rich), the third for comments he made at a seminar at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. The latter comments were also said to be carried on a web site and the last appears to relate to a CD and an audio recording that the police claim was meant to “overthrow the democratic government with the King as Head of State.” We assume this refers to his Red Manifesto (see below).

Ji remains in exile.

Key documents regarding the case:

A Coup for the Rich, by Giles Ji Ungpakorn

Police summons for Giles Ji Ungpakorn to appear on charges of lèse majesté.

Giles Ji Ungpakorn’s statements about the case:

25 March 2009, Giles responds to claims he “ran away” from  lesè majesté charges: English-language version (“I do not run away, I fight!”)  ภาษาไทย (ผมไม่หนี ผมสู้คดีครับ (1) และ ผมไม่หนี ผมสู้คดีครับ (2) )

Giles Ungpakorn spoke at SOAS, London, on 23 February 2009. A YouTube video, in 4 parts, is now available, with Part 1 here

Media reports on Ji’s cases:

Matichon, 3 January 2011: “เปิดบัญชีคดีพิเศษ”ดีเอสไอ” 33 คดีเข้าข่ายหมิ่นเบื้องสูง

Guardian, 18 February 2009: “Thailand’s battle for democracy”

9 February 2009: The Red Siam Manifesto — in English here, and in ภาษาไทย here.

27 January 2009: Does Thailand have a Human Rights Commision?

23 January 2009, Why the Lèse Majesté law in Thailand is an abomination

20 January 2009, Details of lèse majesté charges against Giles Ji Ungpakorn

13 January 2009, Press Statement by Associate Professor Giles Ji Ungpakorn Regarding Lèse Majesté Charges

Commentary and interviews:

New Mandala, 20 February 2009: “Special interview: Giles Ungpakorn, Part 1” and New Mandala, 23 February 2009: “Special interview: Giles Ungpakorn, part 2”. The interview is now available in Thai at New Liberal: It is availablehere/สัมภาษณ์พิเศษ: ใจ อึ้งภากรณ์.

Well-known Thailand scholar Michael Connors has weighed in on this case at his blog Sovereign Myth: Lèse majesté and Solidarity: the Case of Ji Giles Ungpakorn”.

For a flavour of the kind of incendiary attacks being made on Giles and his supporters by the Manager newspaper and other right-wing and nationalist-royalists, translated to English, visit the 2bangkok.com.

News about the cases:

Reporters Without Borders, 4 December 2009: “King asked to pardon Internet users prosecuted on lese majeste or national security charges”

Bangkok Post, 10 November 2009: “Lese majeste complaint against Thaksin”

Financial Times, 25 March 2009: “Arrest warrant for Thai academic in lese-majeste case”

Reuters, 25 March 2009: “Warrant issued for Thai academic who fled to London”

Prachatai, 18 February 2009: “Questions left behind by Ji Ungpakorn regarding Lese Majeste Law”

UPIAsia, 13 February 2009: “Thai scholar abandons king and country”

The Oxford Mail, 10 February 2009, “Royal rumpus over Thai book”

Asia Sentinel, 10 February 2009: “Red Siam Manifesto”

Index on Censorship, 9 February 2009: “Interview”

Committee to Protect Journalists, 9 January 2009: “Writer goes into exile over Thai lese majeste charges”

IHT, 9 February 2009: “Thai professor flees to England after alleged insult to monarchy”

The Guardian, 9 February 2009,  “British professor flees Thailand after charges of insulting king”

Marwaan Macan-Markar, IPS, 27 January 2009, “Don challenges lese majeste law — risks jail term”

MRzine, 21 January 2009: Thailand: Drop Lèse Majesté Charges against Giles Ji Ungpakorn

Associated Press, 20 January 2009, “Thai academic charged with insulting the king”

Asia Sentinel, 19 January 2009, “Thai activist Ungpakorn faces charges today”

Asia Sentinel, 12 January 2009, Thai Critic Ungpakorn to be Charged with Lèse Majesté”

Take action:

Socialist Worker calls for advocacy on behalf of Ji Ungpakorn, 3 February 2009, “Defend this key Thai socialist”

On 27 January 2009, English PEN called for action in support of Ji’s case here.

18 responses

30 08 2009
New: IFEX on Darunee’s lese majest sentence « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] government led by Abhisit Vejjajiva and his Democrat Party. This is seen in the case of academic Ji Ungpakorn. Additionally, academic discussions of the monarchy have been remarkably limited and publications […]

2 09 2009
New: Pravit on Darunee and the whitewashing the 2006 coup « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] comment on support for the coup is one of the reasons for the lese majeste charges against Ji Ungpakorn. In his book A Coup for the Rich, which Ji says is an academic analysis, it is stated: “The […]

2 09 2009
16 09 2009
New: Ji on the 2006 coup anniversary « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Ji on the 2006 coup anniversary PPT reprints here an article by Ji Ungpakorn. We do this because his sites are often […]

5 10 2009
New: Ji Ungpakorn on 6 October, 19 September, and the monarchy in politics « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Ji Ungpakorn on 6 October, 19 September, and the monarchy in politics Ji Ungpakorn, in exile in England since earlier this year, has posted a new article on his blog comparing the […]

11 11 2009
Updated: Lese majeste charges flow fast and furious « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] has updated our pages on the lese majeste allegations against Thaksin and Giles, and we have added a page for Parry. PPT is having difficulty keeping up with all of the […]

5 12 2009
New: Calling on the king for mercy « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] to” intercede to obtain the withdrawal of all charges” against several Internet users: Giles Ji Ungpakorn, Jonathan Head, Nat Sattayapornpisut, the royal health rumor 4, and Praya Pichai, a blogger who was […]

11 05 2010
What we want you to believe « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] of international attention and stoic attention to attempts to censor or pressure by Thai academics. Giles Ji Ungpakorn is an academic who published the book A coup for the Rich and found that he was charged with lese […]

20 06 2010
Ji Ungpakorn book launch « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] Ji Ungpakorn, a Thai academic accused of lese majeste and who has had to flee the country […]

20 06 2010
Ji Ungpakorn book launch « Politicalprisonersofthailand's Blog

[…] Ji Ungpakorn, a Thai academic accused of lese majeste and who has had to flee the country […]

24 08 2010
Defending the indefensible « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] readers think us unfair, ask these questions: 1. What support did Charas provide for his colleague Ji Ungpakorn, harassed in his publishing and then chased into exile by royalist claims of lese majeste?; and 2. […]

25 08 2010
Sondhi and Sonthi « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] because if he did reveal how the palace was involved in the coup, General Sonthi would have to join Ji Ungpakorn in exile. Recall that Ji stated that the palace was involved in the coup, and that was enough to […]

21 09 2011
Mark Teufel interviews Ji Ungpakorn | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] couple of days ago journalist Mark Teufel completed an interview with Giles Ji Ungpakorn. PPT is pleased to be able to provide readers with the English-language text, lightly edited by […]

8 01 2012
Ji Ungpakorn faces 4 lese majeste charges « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] readers will surely know, Ji Ungpakorn was an Associate Professor of Political Science at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok when fled […]

12 01 2012
The Tragedy of King Bhumibol | ZENJOURNALIST

[…] author of the intriguing “Hi s tales” on Facebook deserves a special mention too. Giles lives in exile in Britain after being accused of lèse majesté; Chiranuch is embroiled in an […]

15 05 2012
15 05 2012
Ji on Ampol and lese majeste at Green Left « Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] little while ago we posted a statement by lese majeste exile Ji Ungpakorn following the death in custody of lese majeste convict Ampol Tangnopakul. Ji has a new commentary […]

13 08 2012
The Tragedy of King Bhumibol | ZENJOURNALIST MIRROR

[…] author of the intriguing “Hi s tales” on Facebook deserves a special mention too. Giles lives in exile in Britain after being accused of lèse majesté; Chiranuch is embroiled in an […]