Stolen history 6

On 3 May 2017, a court approved the detention of six persons for alleged lese majeste for allegedly sharing a Facebook post on the theft of the 1932 revolution plaque on about 5 April 2017.

Those arrested appear to be political opponents of the military regime.

Detained incommunicado are human rights lawyer Prawet Praphanukul,  Danai (surname withheld due to privacy concerns), a political dissident from Chiang Mai, and four others, still unnamed.

Prawet has been critical of the military dictatorship and the lese majeste law. Danai was  initially reported to be accused of Facebook messages critical of the junta.

According to a report at Prachatai, the Criminal Court has permitted the detention of the six for sharing a Facebook post by Somsak Jeamteerasakul, who the military junta “blacklisted.”

It is claimed the post called for Thailand to become a republic.

When the “ban” on contact with Somsak, Andrew MacGregor Marshall and Pavin Chachavalpongpun, many scoffed that enforcing the ban was likely illegal and difficult to enforce.

But legalities and formalities have never been a barrier to the lawless military dictatorship.

So, the Criminal Court in Bangkok granted police custody over six people accused of violating Article 112 of the Criminal Code. The police and military rounded the six up in different parts of the country in late April 2017. Other charges include computer crimes and sedition.

Prachatai states that lawyer Arnon Nampa says the six are accused of lese majeste for sharing a Facebook post about the missing 1932 Revolution Plaque posted by Somsak, who is exiled in France.

Prawet is accused of three separate charges under Article 116 of the Criminal Code, the sedition law. In total, Prawet faces up to 171 years in jail, although maximum sentencing in Thailand is 50 years.

The twinning of sedition and lese majeste tell us that the military dictatorship is determined to prevent any criticism of the king for his presumed role in the theft of the plaque.

The court allowed an initial custody period of 12 days. By late June 2017, Prawet and the others had been in jail for two months.

No investigations, let alone arrests, have occurred for the theft and vandalism of the 1932 plaque. Rather, the junta has covered up and silenced questions. They are the best “confessions” we have seen in this case.

Prawet was detained incommunicado at the 11th Army Circle base in Bangkok and then was handed over to police. He is reported to have denied the allegations.

So has Danai but the details of his alleged “crimes” were not outlined in the police submission to the court, raising questions about the legality of his detention (not that the junta is ever worried about law and legality).

Three of the other four suspects are claimed to have admitted they shared messages of Thammasat University historian Somsak Jeamteerasakul on Facebook, while another suspect denied the accusations. If they have, they may have been sentenced in secret.

Those arrested include company employees, a lawyer, a university lecturer, a recent graduate and a teacher. All appear to have been politically active.

As usual, on 11 May 2017, the Criminal Court in Bangkok refused bail for Prawet, renewing his detention period. Prawet’s lawyer asked for bail with a 680,000 baht guarantee. And, as usual, the court denied bail citing flight risk, severity of the charge, and the possibility that the suspect might interfere with evidence. This is essentially programmatic for the courts in lese majeste cases.

The courts ignore law and keep lese majeste suspects locked up until they “confess.”

Media accounts of the Stolen History 6’s case:

Prachatai, 28 June 2017: “Court refuses to free human rights lawyer accused of royal defamation

Prachatai, 12 May 2017: “Bail denied to human rights lawyer facing up to 50 years jail

Khaosod, 10 May 2017: “Professor, Law Grad, Teacher Among 6 Charged with Lese Majeste

Prachatai, 10 May 2017: “University lecturer faces 15 years in jail for sharing FB post

Bangkok Post, 4 May 2017: “Rights lawyer faces up to 150 years in prison

Prachatai, 3 May 2017: “6, including human rights lawyer, arrested for lèse majesté